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Second  Impression 


,  C&otambi a 


Copyright,  1912,  by  Romiett  Stevens 


The  author  desires  to  express  grateful  appreciation  for  the 
professional  co-operation  of  individuals  and  groups  of  individuals 
who  have  made  possible  this  study  in  class-room  efficiency.  First 
of  all  my  acknowledgments  are  due  to  Dr.  James  E.  Russell, 
Dean  of  Teachers  College,  through  whose  encouragement  and 
aid  the  Department  of  Secondary  Education  was  enabled  to 
make  the  stenographic  reports  that  serve  as  a  basis  for  the  in- 
vestigations ;  also  to  Dr.  Julius  Sachs,  Professor  of  Secondary 
Education,  and  to  Dr.  Frank  McMurry,  Professor  of  Elementary 
Education,  whose  guidance  and  advice  have  been  invaluable 
throughout  the  progress  of  the  work.  I  also  acknowledge  most 
gratefully  the  courtesy  and  true  professional  spirit  manifested 
by  the  principals  and  teachers  in  the  various  schools  selected  for 
detailed  observation  and  class-room  practice. 

R.  S. 
Teachers  College 

Columbia  University 





BY  THE  NUMBER  OF  QUESTIONS    ...      8 

Chapter      I.  Nature  of  the  investigations  in  class-room 

practice 8 

Chapter     II.  Efficiency  of  instruction  as  measured  by  a 

large  number  of  questions  .         .         .16 

Chapter  III.  Efficiency  of  instruction  as  measured  by  a 

smaller  number  of  questions       .          .     45 


BY  THE  QUALITY  OF  THE  QUESTIONS     .         .     72 




This  report  is  a  study  of  one  small  phase  of  class-room  pro- 
cedure— the  use  of  the  question.  It  is  a  critical  study  of  class- 
room practice  rather  than  the  promulgation  of  a  theory.  The 
motive  in  its  presentation  is  twofold :  to  turn  the  searchlight  of 
inquiry  upon  some  significant  tendencies  in  our  teaching,  and  to 
suggest  opportunities  for  constructive  work  in  a  neglected  field 
in  the  training  and  supervision  of  teachers. 

That  it  is  a  neglected  aspect  of  training  is  proved  by  the  fact 
that  so  little  has  been  written  about  questioning.  There  is  not 
in  educational  literature  sufficient  bibliography  on  the  subject  to 
be  formally  recorded.  Fitch's  little  pamphlet  on  the  "Art  of 
Questioning  "  deals  with  the  technique  of  the  craft  of  teaching, 
and  Reinstein's  "  Die  Frage  im  Unterricht  'n  is  a  brief  treatise 
in  the  same  vein  with  excellent  suggestions  regarding  the  use 
of  analytic  and  developmental  questions  in  foreign  language  work 
and  mathematics.  In  our  own  country  there  have  been  only 
occasional  chapters  on  the  art  of  questioning  in  books  of 
method.2  The  importance  of  the  art  and  its  constant  application 
in  teaching  make  this  omission  the  more  surprising.  In  view 
of  these  facts  I  trust  that  the  investigations  recorded  in  this 
study,  and  the  deductions  drawn  therefrom  may  be  considered  in 
the  light  of  pioneer  work  in  this  particular  field  of  practice. 

It  seems  to  be  very  generally  assumed  that  teachers  know  by 
a  sort  of  intuition  when  to  ask  questions  and  how  to  ask  them — 
that  if  the  content  of  the  lesson  and  the  general  plan  of  presen- 
tation have  been  adequately  plotted,  the  questions  will  in  some 
way  adjust  themselves  to  the  needs  of  the  moment.  Teachers 

1Reinstein,   Die  Frage  im   Unterricht,   Leipzig,    1903. 
*De  Garmo,  Interest  and  Education,  Chapter  XIV. 

Betts,  The  Recitation,  Chapter  III. 

Strayer,  The  Teaching  Process,  Chapter  XI. 

2        The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

are  rarely  at  a  loss  for  questions — in  fact  it  seems  that  the  first 
consideration  with  many  is  ability  to  ask  them  rapidly.  The 
situation  as  I  have  found  it  since  I  have  been  making  a  study 
of  the  subject,  makes  me  appreciate  the  attitude  of  the  youthful 
teacher  of  history  who  said  with  assurance  upon  accepting  her 
first  position,  "  Oh,  I'm  going  to  ask  questions  so  fast  that  the 
pupils  will  have  no  chance  to  think  of  anything.".  It  is  a  fact 
that  teachers  do  use  the  question  as  a  means  to  bridge  gaps  and 
kill  time  during  a  class  hour,  thus  perverting  its  legitimate  and 
valuable  function  as  an  educational  agent. 

The  question  and  answer  type  of  recitation,  when  rightly  used, 
is  more  fruitful  for  the  teaching  process  than  any  of  these  three 
recognized  media  of  instruction,  the  topical  recitation,  the  written 
lesson,  or  the  lecture.  The  topical  recitation  is  a  method  em- 
ployed for  repeating  facts  that  are  presented  and  systematized 
by  someone  else;  the  written  lesson  is  a  test  of  the  facts  a  stu- 
dent possesses  and,  at  best,  his  method  of  classifying  them; 
the  lecture  is  a  "  pouring  in  "  process. 

The  question  and  answer  recitation  may  become  a  conversation 
hour  between  teacher  and  pupils,  a  period  of  richest  opportunity 
for  true  education,  i.e.,  the  "  leading  out "  of  what  is  in  the  mind 
of  the  pupil.  It  can  be  a  time  when  the  mind  of  the  teacher 
comes  into  closest  touch  with  the  will  and  the  emotions  of  his 
pupil,  guiding  and  directing  him  towards  standards  of  thought 
and  action  far  beyond  the  ken  of  youth.  It  can  be  a  time  of 
richest  opportunity  for  the  teacher  to  ascertain  just  where  to  set 
his  pupils  adrift  in  thought  life  to  do  independent  intellectual 
work  in  accordance  with  their  ability,  and  so  to  grow  in  the 
power  to  think  and  to  act  for  themselves.  It  can  be  the  time 
for  the  teacher  to  discover  the  possible  avenues  of  a  pupil's  own 
initiative  and  to  give  him  the  right  impetus. 

The  use  that  a  teacher  makes  of  a  recitation  period  reveals 
very  clearly  his  aims  and  purposes  in  teaching.  After  all,  it  is 
what  he  actually  does  in  the  class  room,  rather  than  what  he 
aims  to  do,  that  counts  in  the  education  of  youth.  If  a  teacher's 
ulitmate  aim  is  the  "  acquisition  of  knowledge,"  then  it  is  rea- 
sonable to  expect  that  his  class  work  will  reflect  that  aim  and 
the  tendency  towards  it  will  be  manifest  in  the  framing  of  his 
questions.  I  hardly  need  to  add  that  not  every  question  need 
bristle  with  "  ultimate  aim,"  but  it  is  certainly  true  that  if  he 

The  Significance  of  a  Study  of  Questioning  3 

possesses  an  honest  purpose  in  his  teaching,  that  purpose  will 
be  manifest  in  his  intercourse  with  his  pupils ;  it  will  give  color, 
however  faint  it  may  be,  to  his  questions.  If  his  ultimate  aim 
is  "  harmonious  development  of  all  the  powers,"  then  again  it 
is  reasonable  to  expect  that  his  class  work  will  reflect  that  aim, 
and  it  is  right  for  us  to  seek  traces  of  it  in  his  questions.  If 
his  ultimate  aim  is  "  social  efficiency,"  it  is  likewise  true  that 
his  class  work  will  reflect  that  aim.  It  is  impossible  to  realize 
the  ultimate  aim  unless  the  successive  steps,  or  the  immediate 
aims,  point  in  the  direction  of  the  ultimate  aim. 

When  a  high  school  principal  says  that  the  aim  of  instruc- 
tion in  his  school  is  to  make  his  boys  and  girls  good  citizens, 
and  in  the  same  school  the  physics  instructor  says  his  aim  in 
.teaching  physics  is  to  get  his  pupils  into  college,  and  the  history 
instructor  says  his  aim  is  to  teach  history,  it  becomes  a  very 
interesting  study  to  get  down  to  the  actual  reactions  of  pupils 
and  teachers  in  that  school;  to  see  just  how  the  history  teacher's 
practice  fits  his  aim,  and  how  the  physics  teacher  fulfils  his 
object,  and  how  both  of  them,  working  for  the  unity  of  the 
school,  approximate  the  standards  set  by  the  principal.  Then 
when  it  chances  that  we  find  both  physics  and  history  teachers 
spending  all  their  energies  in  quizzing,  day  after  day,  upon  facts 
set  forth  in  text-book  lessons — in  the  "  hearing  "  of  predigested 
or  partly  digested  facts — it  is  obvious  that  the  man  who  says 
his  aim  in  teaching  is  to  get  his  pupils  into  college  is  probably 
the  only  one  whose  practice  approximates  his  theory. 

It  seems  a  travesty  upon  the  science  of  education  to  claim 
to  make  "  good  citizens  "  by  the  current  class-room  practice  of 
hearing  text-book  lessons.  When  all  is  said  and  done  the  class 
rooms  are  the  units  of  the  school,  and  the  practices  of  the  class 
room  are  the  factors  that  count  in  educational  realization.  The 
efficiency  of  a  school  or  of  a  system  of  schools  must  be  measured 
by  the  efficiency  of  its  class-room  practice;  the  thing  that  the 
pupil  is  doing  is  the  thing  that  counts. 

When  we  find  a  true  teacher  at  work  in  a  class  room  we  gen- 
erally find  that  he  is  using  the  question  and  answer  recitation 
for  a  distinct  educational  purpose:  he  seeks  through  a  series  of 
skillful  questions  to  draw  forth  from  his  pupils  certain  groups 
of  facts  related  or  unrelated;  he  then  gives  the  pupil  the  incen- 
tive to  assort  his  facts  and  put  them  together  in  new  relations, 

4        The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

converting  them  into  potential  factors  in  his  experience ;  he  helps 
him  to  make  over  a  mass  of  dry  facts  into  living  knowledge. 
The  mechanical  teacher  seeks  in  his  questioning  merely  to  drive 
home  a  certain  daily  assortment  of  facts  gleaned  from  the  perusal 
of  the  text-book  lesson.  The  teacher  who  is  a  master  of  the 
art  of  questioning  knows  how,  by  the  use  of  the  right  question 
in  the  right  place,  to  teach  his  pupils  to  acquire  and  classify 
knowledge.  If  he  is  not  a  master  of  the  art,  if  he  cannot  him- 
self be  clear  and  logical  in  his  questioning,  he  fosters  in  his 
pupils  negative  habits  of  work,  poor  associations,  and  careless 

With  the  scientific  teacher,  the  conversation  hour  is  the  time 
for  versatility  in  effort  to  establish  ideals,  to  form  habits  of 
thought  and  action,  to  do  any  of  the  many  things  pertinent  to 
the  development  of  the  unformed  or  crudely  formed  habits  of 
the  youthful  mind.  With  the  mechanical  teacher  it  is  continu- 
ously a  period  for  pumping  facts  into  or  out  of  the  storage 
reservoir  of  the  mind.  There  is  a  story  of  an  Ohio  school  teacher 
who  asked  of  her  class  one  day  a  question  that  did  not  draw 
the  prompt  response  she  expected.  With  some  surprise  she 
turned  to  one  of  the  boys,  saying,  "  You  know  what  I  want  you 
to  say,  Johnnie;  why  don't  you  say  it?"  Johnnie  replied,  "I 
know  what  you  want  all  right,  but  you  ain't  asked  the  question 
what  fetches  it."  This  teacher  was  pumping  for  facts,  and  the 
youth,  wi-cr  than  she,  refused  to  yield  up  his  store  until  the 
teacher  had  performed  her  task  properly. 

Possibly  one  reason  for  the  general  defects  in  our  method  of 
using  the  question  and  answer  is  due  to  the  very  casual  attention 
paid  to  the  subject  in  our  training  of  teachers.  In  most  training 
classes,  two  lines  of  instruction  are  strongly  stressed,  namely,  the 
fund  of  knowledge  and  the  psychology  of  teaching.  A  school 
emphasizes  the  necessity  for  a  fund  of  knowledge,  requiring  that 
a  certain  proportion  of  time  in  the  stage  of  preparation  be  given 
to  the  content  studies  in  order  that  the  teacher's  experience  may 
always  be  broader  and  richer  than  any  possible  needs  of  his 
class.  The  school  also  emphasizes  the  importance  of  the  psychol- 
ogy and  theory  of  teaching,  requiring  students  to  make  applica- 
tion of  their  psychology  or  theory  in  selecting  and  adapting  from 
their  fund  of  knowledge  certain  portions  for  the  immediate  needs 
of  the  class  room.  In  concrete  form  this  last  phase  of  work  is 

The  Significance  of  a  Study  of  Questioning  5 

embodied  in  a  lesson  plan,  which  gives  variously  the  psychological 
aims  of  the  lesson,  the  content,  and  a  brief  outline  of  the  manner 
of  presentation.  This  accomplished,  the  student-teacher  is  fre- 
quently sent  to  meet  his  class,  leaving  the  immediate  connection 
between  the  plan  in  his  mind  and  the  experience  in  the  mind 
of  the  child  to  be  met  through  a  series  of  questions.  These  ques- 
tions may  be  so  inspiring  in  their  origin  that  they  stimulate  the 
mental  life  of  the  children  to  just  the  right  degree  of  vigorous 
activity,  or  they  may,  in  themselves,  wholly  defeat  a  nobly  con- 
ceived psychological  aim  of  the  lesson. 

For  these  reasons  I  believe  the  subject  of  questioning  should 
have  a  place  in  the  training  of  every  teacher — a  place  that  is 
comparable  in  importance  with  "  fund  of  knowledge  "  and  psy- 
chology. Since  it  is  so  largely  the  medium  by  means  of  which 
the  principles  of  psychology  and  the  fund  of  knowledge  are  tied 
together  to  further  the  educative  process,  it  stands  to  reason  that 
it  is  a  point  in  the  training  of  teachers  where  thoughtful  atten- 
tion should  be  centered.  Young  teachers  should  not  be  left  to 
do  haphazard  work  in  questioning,  but  they  should  be  made 
familiar  with  the  functioning  power  of  different  types  of  ques- 
tions, and  should  know  how  to  incorporate  in  the  plan  of  a 
lesson  a  framework  of  questions,  possibly  not  more  than  eight 
or  ten  in  number,  that  will  indicate  conclusively  the  intended 
values  of  the  lesson.  If  the  lesson  is  to  have  any  aims  and 
values,  these  must  be  apparent  in  the  questioning, — otherwise 
they  remain  things  of  theory  in  the  note-book  of  the  teacher. 

The  entire  range  of  questions  can,  for  obvious  reasons,  never 
be  prepared  before  entering  the  class.  It  is  impossible  to  antici- 
pate the  crossroads  and  the  byways  through  which  the  teacher 
may  be  obliged  to  journey  in  order  to  guide  his  pupils  to  a 
camp  ground  for  the  day.  Any  teacher  who  attempts  to  follow 
a  rigid  sequence  of  questions  is  hopelessly  lost,  and  all  spon- 
taneity is  swallowed  up  in  "  method."  However,  there  is  a  rea- 
sonable course  between  total  absence  of  preconceived  method  and 
total  absorption  in  such  method.  There  is  an  art  in  questioning 
that  can  be  acquired  by  study  and  practice.  The  art  of  question- 
ing well  is  a  high  attainment  in  a  teacher's  method.  Proficiency 
is  not  to  be  expected  of  novices  in  the  profession,  yet  it  should 
be  a  possible  attainment  with  practice  of  the  most  conscious  and 
intelligent  sort.  Practice,  however, — mere  practice — will  not 

6        The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

accomplish  the  desired  end;  many  a  teacher  questions  hourly 
during  every  day  of  a  school  year  and  is  no  more  skillful  than 
when  he  began.  When  a  teacher  conscientiously  makes  study  of 
the  subject,  analyzing  and  criticizing  his  own  attempts,  trying 
and  failing,  and  trying  again,  it  is  possible  to  develop  technique 
in  questioning,  just  as  it  is  possible  to  develop  technique  in 
any  other  art.  It  is  absolutely  essential  to  bring  conscious  atten- 
tion to  bear  upon  the  subject  before  one  can  command  the  habit 
of  questioning  well. 

Although  we  recognize  the  existence  and  the  importance  of 
several  different  types  of  recitation,  I  believe  it  is  safe  to  say 
that  eight-tenths  of  the  school  time  is  occupied  with  questions 
and  answers.  The  first  question  the  teacher  asks  after  a  class 
enters  the  room  serves  to  give  a  vigorous  prick  to  the  attention 
of  the  group,  and  to  bring  forward  into  consciousness  the  masses 
of  experience  that  are  likely  to  be  needed  for  the  work  of  the 
hour.  For  example,  a  class  may  have  just  come  from  a  period 
of  German,  where  every  faculty  was  strained  to  understand, 
to  give  expression,  to  incorporate  for  the  first  time  certain  new 
constructions  and  idioms  of  the  foreign  language.  And  now, 
after  an  interval  of  five  minutes,  another  teacher  aims,  by  one 
direct  question,  to  throw  into  the  background  all  thought  of  the 
German,  and  to  bring  forward  another  mass  known  as  geometry, 
as  by  the  pressing  of  a  button.  Plato  named  the  question  well 
when  he  called  it  the  "  torpedo's  touch."  Sometimes,  at  the  close 
of  several  hours  of  class  work,  and  after  a  prolonged  series  of 
questions,  the  mind  fails  to  respond  to  this  kind  of  stimulus. 
We  find  that  the  attention  of  the  pupils  lags;  then  the  teacher 
is  forced  to  wield  his  weapon  with  even  greater  vigor,  so  that 
the  intellectual  powers  of  the  poor  pupils  are  fairly  prodded  to 
action,  just  as  the  vitality  of  a  jaded  horse  is  stimulated  by  the 
spurs  of  an  ambitious  rider. 

We  know  something  of  the  effect  of  a  question  upon  ourselves 
when  we  are  listening  to  a  lecture.  Our  interest  and  attention 
are  naturally  with  the  speaker;  we  make  ourselves  most  recep- 
tive; we  sit  back  for  a  comfortable  and  enjoyable  hour.  Then 
if  the  lecturer  suddenly  pauses  and  frames  a  good  question,  the 
effect  is  instantaneous  whether  the  question  is  directed  at  us 
individually  or  at  the  world  in  general.  What  happens  in  the 
gray  matter  of  the  brain  may  be  left  to  the  psychologist  to  explain, 

The  Significance  of  a  Study  of  Questioning  7 

but  we  know  perfectly  well  what  our  experience  is.  Whereas 
interest  and  attention  were  present  before  the  question  came, 
their  nature  now  is  somewhat  different.  We  have  suddenly  been 
called  upon  to  make  quick  associations  of  ideas,  and  possibly  to 
give  expression  to  thought,  both  sets  of  activities  requiring  a 
degree  of  mental  vigor  not  exercised  when  we  were  mere  listen- 
ers. The  "  torpedo's  touch  "  has  been  applied. 

In  our  class  rooms  children  are  being  brought  up  on  this  kind 
of  mental  stimulus,  exercised  with  so  little  discretion  that  there 
is  a  continuous  tendency  to  over  stimulus  of  certain  qualities, 
generally  of  the  more  superficial  sort,  to  the  utter  neglect  of  the 
more  valuable  qualities.  While  fully  cognizant  of  the  importance 
of  the  question  as  the  legitimate  implement  of  the  teacher,  designed 
by  its  very  nature  to  be  perhaps  the  greatest  medium  of  instruc- 
tion, I  believe  it  is  generally  used  too  vigorously  and  too  thought- 
lessly, thus  defeating  the  very  purposes  for  which  it  was  designed. 

If  the  purpose  of  the  question  is  to  provoke  thought  and  evoke 
expression,  can  the  result  be  other  than  negative  when  a  teacher 
of  history  in  one  class  period  of  forty  minutes  asks  one  hundred 
and  fifty  questions,  and  gets  one  hundred  and  fifty  answers,  with 
an  average  of  more  than  three  questions  and  three  answers  per 
minute?  With  such  breakneck  speed  what  chance  can  there 
be  for  assimilation  or  association  of  ideas,  and  for  orderly  ex- 
pression? The  nervous  pace  of  the  American  people  is  set  in 
just  this  way  by  thousands  of  our  teachers  during  every  day  of 
the  year. 

That  my  assertions  regarding  present-day  practice  in  the  use 
of  the  question  and  answer  recitation  may  not  be  purely  theoretical 
or  derived  merely  from  impressions  received  during  cursory  obser- 
vations, I  have  made  personally  a  set  of  investigations  of  prevalent 
practices  in  the  use  of  the  question  and  answer  in  typical  schools 
in  and  around  New  York  City.  The  results  of  these  investiga- 
tions are  set  forth  in  the  following  chapters. 





My  investigations  touching  the  teacher's  use  of  the  question 
as  a  medium  of  instruction  have  covered  a  period  of  four  years. 
I  have  observed  classes  in  different  types  of  schools,  public  and 
private,  and  grades  from  the  seventh  grammar  through  the  last 
year  of  high  school.  In  selecting  teachers  for  observation,  I 
have  always  asked  for  the  best  teachers  in  the  school,  so  that 
the  results  of  my  observations  reflect  the  work  that  is  acknowl- 
edged to  be  above  the  average.  Twenty  lessons  have  been  steno- 
graphically  reported  in  order  that  I  might  have  some  accurate 
black-and-white  records  of  class  work  for  detailed  study. 

There  has  been  heretofore  a  lack  of  studies  of  actual  class- 
room practice  except  by  way  of  casual  impressions  received  and 
notes  taken  during  personal  observation  of  a  lesson.  There  has 
been  a  want,  too,  of  accurate  and  permanent  records  of  every 
word  uttered  during  a  class  period  so  that  lessons  could  be  ana- 
lyzed and  studied  for  their  intellectual  and  psychological  values, 
as  definite  pieces  of  literature.  It  was  for  the  purpose  of  furnish- 
ing black-and-white  records  of  facts  as  a  basis  for  study  that 
these  stenographic  lesson  reports  were  made.  It  was  necessary  to 
get  absolutely  away  from  the  radiance  of  a  good  teacher's  pres- 
ence and  the  sympathetic  interaction  of  the  personalities  of  pupils 
and  teacher,  and  to  sit  down  in  the  privacy  of  one's  study  with 
the  cold  hard  facts  of  the  intellectual  "  stuff  "  of  the  lesson,  in 
order  to  get  anything  like  a  systematic  approach  for  the  estimate 
of  values  in  questioning.  It  is  far  from  my  intention  to  depre- 
ciate the  qualities  of  sympathy,  personality,  inspiration,  and  "  in- 


The  Investigations  9 

teraction,"  but  these  estimable  characteristics  alone  do  not  con- 
stitute the  framework  of  the  educative  process.  There  must  be 
first  of  all  a  firm  foundation  of  the  content  of  instruction — some- 
thing worth  while  to  teach  and  consistent  methods  of  teaching 
it — and  then  sympathy  gives  life  to  work,  and  inspiration  gives 
it  direction. 

By  means  of  the  stenographic  reports,  then,  we  may  be  able 
to  analyze  a  lesson  for  any  of  its  functions  or  values  that  can 
be  measured  by  spoken  words.  It  is  the  purpose  of  this  study 
to  analyze  for  questioning  alone.  Content,  plan  of  lesson,  methods 
of  assigning  work,  aims  ("  utilitarian,"  "  cultural,"  "  social,"  or 
"  efficiency  "),  are  not  considered  except  as  they  may  be  reflected 
in  the  questioning. 

The  first  reading  of  a  stenographic  lesson  is  generally  dis- 
appointing. This  is  due,  I  think,  to  the  fact  that  it  is  so  different 
from  a  "  model "  lesson  with  which  we  unconsciously  compare 
it.  The  stenographic  lesson  seems  void  and  flippant  by  contrast. 
A  model  lesson  is  a  creation  of  the  mature,  well-drilled  mind 
of  its  teacher-author,  who,  knowing  his  goal,  his  time-limit,  his 
material  and  his  tools,  shapes  his  lesson  as  a  unit, — as  complete 
and  perfect  a  unit  as  he  can  conceive.  It  is  not  so  with  real 
lessons.  The  teacher  in  the  class  room  must  always  reckon  with 
the  element  of  the  unexpected ;  the  lesson  report  reflects  it.  There 
are  all  manner  of  exigencies  to  be  met  in  the  conduct  of  a  real 
lesson,  and  these  "  asides,"  interruptions,  and  repetitions  make 
the  actual  report  seem  less  complete,  less  serious,  but  much  more 
natural  than  the  model  lesson. 

The  stenographic  reports  are  to  all  intents  and  purposes  accur- 
ate. There  are  certain  limitations  in  the  best  congressional  re- 
porters when  they  are  called  upon  to  use  the  technical  vocabularies 
of  our  class  rooms  with  the  speed  required  to  keep  pace  with 
nervous  teachers  and  high-strung  pupils.  There  is  additional 
difficulty  encountered  through  the  habitual  carelessness  of  children 
in  the  use  of  spoken  English.  "Mouthing"  of  words,  trailing 
sentences  off  into  nothingness,  leaving  sentences  unfinished,  these 
are  some  of  the  difficulties  the  reporters  must  meet.  The  reports 
have  in  every  case  been  returned  to  the  teacher  for  correction 
of  words,  and  for  insertions  where  the  stenographer  lost  words. 
If  the  report  seemed  to  the  teacher  to  be  wholly  unfair  because 
of  the  stenographer's  incapacity,  it  was  destroyed. 

IO      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

The  stenographic  reports  are  quoted  freely  in  the  following 
pages.  The  criticisms  are  in  no  way  personal  to  the  individual 
teachers,  for  each  of  whom  I  have  the  most  sincere  respect.  In 
selecting  them  for  these  studies,  I  have  consciously  chosen  repre- 
sentative teachers  in  the  different  schools  and  in  different  subjects. 
In  every  case  the  presence  of  the  stenographers  was  an  ordeal 
that  was  met  with  courage  and  unselfishness.  Under  the  cir- 
cumstances, conditions  could  never  be  wholly  normal.  Loyalty 
to  the  profession  and  intelligent  appreciation  of  the  needs  of  the 
profession  prompted  the  acquiescence  of  the  teachers  in  the  con- 
fessedly trying  experiments.  I  trust  that  the  discussions  will  be 
accepted  in  the  same  professional  spirit,  since  they  are  in  no 
way  criticisms  of  individuals,  but  rather  a  presentation  of  char- 
acteristic features  in  teaching. 

In  addition  to  the  series  of  twenty  stenographic  reports  of 
lessons,  I  have  made  two  different  studies  in  observation:  the 
first,  a  series  of  one  hundred  random  observations  in  various 
subjects  of  the  curriculum  for  the  purpose  of  counting  and  noting 
the  number  and  the  nature  of  the  questions ;  the  second,  a  series 
of  ten  observations  of  selected  classes,  each  class  having  been 
followed  through  the  activities  of  an  entire  school  day  for  the 
purpose  of  studying  the  nature  of  the  question-and-answer  stimu- 
lus in  the  aggregate  as  it  is  administered  to  school  children  daily. 

The  first  series  of  one  hundred  observations  made  at  different 
times  and  in  different  schools,  for  purposes  of  recording  question- 
ing activity,  is  shown  below.  Every  class  observed  is  reported 
accurately,  even  if  it  chanced  to  be  largely  a  laboratory  period 
or  a  reading  lesson  in  the  literature  of  a  foreign  language.  If 
there  were  no  questions  asked  during  the  period  a  zero  repre- 
sents the  fact. 

The  Investigations  n 





Modern  Mathe- 

English           Latin           History            Science  Language1  matics 

69  105                   41                   122  81  165 
129                     75                 142                     86  60  70 

70  66                 125                     54  151  86 
68                     61                   94                       O4  119  35 
94                     77                   64                     73  123  116 
74                     42                   90                     71  29  120 

113                   112                   60                     88  176  85 

68                     90                   53                     34s  121  77 

88  101                   61                     15  116  78 
39                   122                   97                   105  88  93 
97                     96                   47 «                   98  110  130 
74                     98                   66                     86  10  84 

120                     90                   93                     97  O5  105 

49                     82                   61  93  98 

89  76  46  56 
102                                           88  104  68 

55                                           80  111  89 
200                                         128 
25                                           68 

1  In  the  Modern  Language  column  the  classes  reflecting  high  questioning 
activity  used  the  modern  method  of  teaching,  requiring  pupils  to  speak 
the  foreign  language.  It  is  the  type  of  work  represented  on  page  31. 
Where  few  questions  are  recorded,  there  was  translation  or  written  work, 
the  language  not  being  used  orally. 

3  An  unusual  lesson  because  twenty-five  of  the  thirty-four  questions  were 
asked  by  the  pupils.  The  instructor  encouraged  questions,  selecting  with 
excellent  judgment  certain  of  them  for  experimentation  and  elabora- 
tion. The  result  was  that  the  lesson  developed  an  impetus  born  of  real 
interest.  I  mention  it  because  this  lesson  was  unique  in  the  series  of  one 

8  This  lesson  was  one  of  a  very  few  in  the  series  where  the  text-book 
was  used  for  consultation  during  the  recitation.  In  most  cases  the  text 
was  closed  and  put  away,  the  pupils  being  expected  to  reproduce  the  con- 
tents. It  was  a  pleasure  to  find  classes  encouraged  to  use  their  text  as  a 
book  of  reference. 

*  Lecture  by  teacher. 

5  Examination. 

12      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

The  second  series  of  ten  studies  represents  the  questioning 
activity  of  particular  classes  throughout  an  entire  school  day. 
In  each  observation,  the  class  was  accompanied  from  the  hour  of 
assembly  until  the  time  of  dismissal,  and  the  questioning  activity 
was  minutely  recorded.  My  purpose  in  making  this  series  of 
observations  was  to  find  out  the  kind  and  amount  of  intellectual 
stimulus  meted  out  to  our  pupils  by  the  questions,  and  what  it 
means  when  reckoned  in  terms  of  a  day's  activity,  or  a  week's 





Questions  (relative) 

9:25-10          German 176  176 

10      -10:40    English 88  88 

10:40-11 :20     Algebra 120  120 

11:20-12           Latin 61  61 

12      -12:40     (Lunch  period.) 

12:40-1:20    Science 71  71 

1:20-  2          Gymnasium  period  (floor  work,  no 

516  516 

Notes  on  1,  showing  the  nature  of  the  worlc  and  types  of  questions  employed : 

1.  GERMAN  (176  questions).  The  questions  and  answers  were  short,  of 
the  sort  necessary  to  carry  on  conversation  in  German,  and  to  give  drill 
in  the  use  of  vocabulary  and  forms.  The  following  are  some  of  the  ques- 
tions asked, — just  enough  to  show  the  trend  of  the  work  and  the  type  of 

Was  ist  dasf     (Edelweiss.) 

Gretchen,  hast  du  das  Edelweiss  gesehenf 

Paul,  kannst  du  das  Edelweiss  sehen? 

Kannst  du  das  Edelweiss  erreichenf 

H   (88  questions).     After  thirteen  minutes  spent  on  a  spelling 
exercise,  the  lesson  began  with  a  discussion  of  fables. 
What  is  the  <!iftVn-nee  between  a  myth  and  a  fable? 
Have  you  ever  read  any  fables? 
How  many  have  read  Aesop  's? 

y  is  it  that  when  people  study  mythology  they  are  so  much  inter- 
ested in  Greek  mythology? 
To  what  source  do  we  look  for  Greek  mythology?     (Homer.) 

3.  Ai.r:Ff<MA  (lL'0  questions).  These  were  largely  upon  the  analysis  of 
Bome  problems  in  factoring,  where  questions  followed  each  other  closely 
and  answers  were  brief. 

The  Investigations  13 

4.  LATIN  (61  questions).    Short  questions  upon  construction  such  as: 
What  does  the  phrase  "  a  sinistro  cornu  "  mean! 

Why  is  the  verb  in  that  sentence  in  the  singular! 

What  case  is  "  hostibus  "f 

What  is  the  antecedent  of  "  Quod  "f 

5.  SCIENCE  (71  questions).    These  were  of  a  developmental  nature. 

In  these  five  class  periods  of  forty  minutes  each,  without  deducting  time 
for  the  change  from  class  to  class,  the  assignment  of  new  work,  etc.,  etc., 
the  total  time  is  200  minutes,  and  the  total  number  of  questions  recorded 
516,  so  that  the  rate  is  about  2.58  questions,  and  2.58  answers  per  minute 
for  each  of  the  200  minutes. 



Questions  (relative) 

Gymnasium 0  0 

History 93  93 

German 29  29 

Mathematics 116  116 

Latin 66  66 

English 68  68 

372  372 



Questions  (relative) 

English 113  113 

Mathematics 35  35 

Music 34  34 

Study  period 0  0 

Ethics 52  52 

Latin 75  75 

English 39  39 

348  348 


Questions  Answers 

History 76  76 

Mathematics 85  85 

English  (in  two  periods) 97  97 

Modern  Languages  (French) 65  65 

Science  (geography) 88  88 

411  411 


Questions  Answers 

English 74  74 

Science 34  34 

Latin 77  77 

Mathematics 77  77 

French 110  110 

372  372 

14      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 


Questions  Answers 

Latin  .  .                   42  42 

IL'O  120 

Algebra 78  78 

an 10  10 

History 88  88 

338  338 

English                                                  .    ... 


Questions          A 






Study  period           .                 


Mathematics  . 


417  417 


Questions  Answers 

German 46  46 

Latin 90  90 

English 89  89 

v  period  0  0 

History 128  128 

Mathematics 130  130 

483  483 


Questions  Answers 

Declamation 102  102 

English 55  55 

Science  (test) 15  15 

Mathematics 84  84 

German 114  114 

370  370 


Questions  Answers 

Assembly  (special)  0  0 

English  .               200  200 

Science 0  0 

Penmanship       ) 0  0 

f 0  0 

Mathematics  .                  56  56 

Reading  (declamations  by  class) 20  20 

History  (work  done  by  teacher) 45  45 

321  321 

The  Investigations  15 

In  this  series  of  ten  observations  (Table  II)  the  average  num- 
ber of  questions  for  a  day's  activity  is  395.  I  have  no  doubt 
that  if  any  one  of  these  classes  had  been  followed  for  a  period 
of  one  week  or  longer,  the  average  would  have  remained  prac- 
tically the  same,  a  little  higher  or  a  little  lower.  It  would  not 
help  us  to  know  the  absolute  accuracy  of  the  figure  even  if  it 
were  possible  to  secure  it.  What  we  do  need  to  know  is  the 
direction  in  which  our  present  practice  is  drifting,  and  the  pace 
it  is  assuming.  Considering  that  children  in  our  schools  are  regu- 
larly held  by  our  teachers,  collectively,  to  a  performance  of  some- 
thing like  four  hundred  questions  and  four  hundred  answers  in 
one  day,  and  something  like  four  hundred  questions  and  four  hun- 
dred answers  the  next  day,  and  so  on,  we  have  in  this  situation 
alone  a  rather  significant  factor  to  reckon  with  in  estimating 
standards  of  class-room  efficiency. 



When  I  asked  a  school  principal  what  he  considered  fair  ques- 
tioning activity  for  his  teachers  he  replied,  after  reflection,  that 
he  supposed  some  of  his  teachers  might  ask  forty-five  questions 
in  a  forty-five  minute  period;  that  is,  one  question  per  minute. 
When  I  showed  him  the  figures  of  a  series  of  observations  made 
in  his  school  his  reply  was,  "  Why,  when  do  they  think?"  a  very 
good  question  for  principals  and  teachers  to  answer. 

The  fact  that  one  teacher  has  the  ability  to  quiz  his  pupils  at 
the  rate  of  two  or  three  questions  in  a  minute,  is  a  matter  of 
comparatively  slight  importance;  the  fact  that  one  hundred  dif- 
ferent class-rooms  reveal  the  same  methods  in  vogue  is  quite 
another  matter.  The  fact  that  one  history  teacher  attempts  to 
realize  his  educational  aims  through  the  process  of  "  hearing  "  the 
text-book,  day  after  day,  is  unfortunate  but  pardonable;  that 
history,  science,  mathematics,  foreign  language  and  English 
teachers,  collectively,  are  following  in  the  same  groove,  is  a 
matter  for  theorists  and  practitioners  to  reckon  with. 

The  first  impression  borne  in  upon  me  while  making  the  series 
of  one  hundred  observations  was  that  of  the  large  number  of 
questions.  It  was  almost  overwhelming,  as  I  proceeded  from 
class  to  class,  to  find  two,  three,  and  four  questions  per  minute 
the  speed  of  one  teacher  after  another,  in  one  subject  after  an- 
other. It  seemed  so  preposterous  that  I  was  not  satisfied  until 
I  had  set  the  stop  watch  upon  my  own  accomplishments  in  that 
direction  and  found  that  I  could  match  the  speed  with  ease. 

If  these  studies  in  observation  and  the  material  of  the  steno- 
graphic reports  are  to  be  of  service  to  the  professional  work  of 
supervisor  and  teacher,  they  must  be  interpreted  in  terms  of 
their  significance  in  the  process  of  instruction.  Let  us  consider 
first  of  all  this  fact  of  number.  What  suggestions  do  the  figures 


A  Large  Number  of  Questions  17 

in  Tables  I  and  II  alone  offer  in  measuring  school  or  class 
efficiency  ? 

FIRST:  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  the  main- 
tenance in  the  class  room,  for  considerable  portions  of  time,  of 
a  highly  strung  nervous  tension  where  there  should  be  natural 
and  normal  conditions.  This  high-pressure  atmosphere  is  always 
a  creation  or  reflection  of  the  manner  of  the  teacher,  with  whom 
it  is  sometimes  wholly  temperamental  and  sometimes  only  assumed 
in  the  class  room  for  the  purpose  of  gripping  the  attention  of 
pupils.  Attention  once  secured  and  the  pace  once  established,  it 
seems  to  be  characteristic  of  class-room  procedure  to  accelerate 
the  tempo  rather  than  to  slow  down  to  one  that  is  more  normal 
and  more  consistent  with  nature's  own  processes  of  mental 

The  teacher  who  has  acquired  the  habit  of  conducting  recita- 
tions at  the  rate  of  from  one  hundred  to  two  hundred  questions 
and  answers  per  class-room  period  of  forty-five  minutes,  has  truly 
assumed  the  pace  that  kills.  It  is  deadly  to  the  nervous  organism 
that  maintains  it  and,  by  reflection,  injurious  to  the  children  who 
live  in  that  atmosphere. 

SECOND:  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  that  the 
teacher  is  doing  most  of  the  work  of  the  class  hour  instead  of 
directing  the  pupils  in  the  doing.  One  reason  why  one  hundred 
and  fifty  questions  can  be  asked  in  forty  minutes  is  due  to  the 
fact  that  the  teacher  can  think  more  rapidly  and  talk  more  rapidly 
than  his  pupils,  and  so,  in  order  to  cover  a  large  amount  of 
subject  matter,  he  carries  the  trend  of  the  lesson  through  his  ques- 
tions, the  pupils  merely  punctuating  the  series  with  short  answers 
from  the  text.  This  situation  can  best  be  realized  by  reading  a 
selection  from  a  stenographic  report  in  history.1 

TEACHER:  A  Congressional  investigation  cannot  be  justified  unless  the 
charges  are  serious.  Now  the  charges  against  Arnold  in  his  Philadelphia 
career  were  of  a  petty  sort;  he  was  charged  with  embezzling  funds  en- 
trusted to  him,  and  the  charge  that  he  had  used  an  army  wagon  was  not 
enough  to  have  disgraced  him  before  the  country. 

On  what  occasion  had  Arnold  failed  to  receive  credit  for  what  he  hadl 

PUPIL  :     At  Saratoga. 

1  The  oral  work  of  the  teacher  is  printed  in  italic ;  that  of  the  pupil  in 
plain  type. 

i8      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:     Who  received  the  credit  of  the  Battle  of  Saratoga? 

PUPIL:    Gates. 

TEACHER:  And  Gates'  participation  in  that  battle  had  been  very  small. 
If  you  consider  Arnold's  character,  his  career,  and  the  sort  of  man  he 
w<ut  you  can  appreciate  the  treatment  Congress  accorded  to  him;  his 
career  was  marked  with  brilliancy,  he  had  been  in  command  of  one  division 
of  the  American  troops,  and  the  difficulties  on  that  march  had  been  par- 
ticularly great.  He  had  taken  part  in  the  charge  at  Quebec,  and  his 
reputation  had  been  greatly  enhanced.  The  result  of  the  Battle  of  Sara- 
toga was  due  largely  to  Arnold's  part  in  it,  but  Congress,  in  its  usual 
mismanagement  of  its  forces  which  is  characteristic  throughout  the  revolu- 
tion, failed  to  recognize  his  services.  What  does  Washington's  attitude\ 
toward  Arnold  seem  to  have  been? 

PUPIL:     He  esteemed  him  highly,  and  was  very  kind  to  him. 

TEACHER:  What  was  the  character  of  the  reprimand  which  Washington 
gave  to  Arnold? 

PUPIL:  He  said  he  would  try  to  gain  back  his  good  name  as  well  aa 
he  could. 

TEACHER:     The  whole  language  of  that  reprimand  was  as  gentle  as  he, 
could  make  it.     They  were  unable  to  remove  him  from  the  army  altogether. 
What  feature  of  Arnold's  treason  do  you  think  was  most  reprehensible* 
most  open  to  criticism? 

PUPIL:  It  was  through  him  that  Andre  came  to  his  death,  he  let  Andre 
die  really  in  his  place. 

TEACHER:  That  is  the  way  it  looks,  that  is  one  bad  feature;  although 
perhaps  Arnold  is  not  open  to  as  much  criticism  there  as  you  may  think. 
He  went  to  General  Clinton  and  offered  to  surrender  himself.  When  you 
consider  how  he  got  the  command  at  West  Point,  you  will  find  there  the* 
worst  point  in  his  whole  career.  He  got  the  command  from  his  best 
friend  Washington;  the  betrayal  was  not  only  a  betrayal  of  America, 
but  of  his  best  friend  Washington,  and  Washington  felt  the  disgrace  per- 
haps even  more  than  Arnold  himself. 

1  want  to  take  up  briefly  the  discussion  of  Andre's  punishment.  What 
were  the  arguments  brought  forward  before  the  committee  of  investi- 
gation against  the  execution  of  Andre  on  the  charge  of  being  a  spy? 

PUPIL:  He  was  the  mere  tool  of  Arnold;  the  information  he  carried 
waa  second-hand ;  he  was  simply  a  messenger  between  Arnold  and  Clinton. 

TEACHER:  What  question  of  military  law  came  up  there,  do  you  know? 
Whether  a  messenger  traveling  under  a— 

PUPIL:     Under  a  flag  of  truce;  he  wasn't,  was  hef 

TEA  il' hat  might  be  interpreted  as  a  flag  of  truce? 

PUPIL  :     A  passport  from  Arnold. 

TEACHER:  The  British  tried  to  make  as  much  as  they  could  out  of 
that;  what  was  said  to  that  argument? 

I  will  quote  also  the  last  half  of  a  chemistry  recitation — a  small 
portion  of  a  lesson  of  more  than  usual  interest.  In  this  work  there 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  19 

was,   however,  active  participation  by  every  pupil  during  the 
laboratory  work  just  completed. 

TEACHER:  This  salt  you  have  made  is  as  good  as  any  salt  you  ever 
ate,  and  I  venture  to  say,  a  good  deal  better,  and  I  am  going  to  ask  in 
your  home  work  that  you  -find  out  why.  I  want  you,  before  you  go,  to 
look  at  this  disk  of  common  salt;  it  is  made  by  evaporating  a  salt  solution 
down  very,  very  slowly,  and  you  get  a  very  pretty  cubical-shaped  crystal,— 
I  want  you  to  look  at  those.  What  is  the  formula  for  common  salt,  John? 

JOHN  :     Na  Cl. 

TEACHER:  Anyone  decided  it  would  be  different?  Of  what  acid  is  it  a 
salt,  Irma? 

IRMA  :     Hydro — 

TEACHER:     You  cannot  pronounce  it? 

IRMA  :     Hydrochloric. 

TEACHER:     Can  you  name  another  salt  of  hydrochloric  acid? 

PUPIL:     Chlorine — no,  sodium. 

TEACHER:     I  want  another,  a  salt  of  hydrochloric  acid? 

PUPIL:     Potassium  salt,  calcium  salt. 

TEACHER:     What  would  be  a  formula  for  the  potassium  salt? 

PUPIL:     K  Cl. 

TEACHER:     What  are  you  going  to  call  all  salts  of  "  ic  "  acids? 

PUPIL:     "  ates." 

TEACHER:  This  is  the  sodium  salt  of  hydrochloric  acid,  what  would 
you  name  it? 

PUPIL:     Sodium  hydrochlorate. 

TEACHER:  What  would  the  sodium  salt  of  chlorous  acid  be,  Edith? 

PUPIL  :     Sodium  chlorite. 

TEACHER:     What  would  be  the  sodium  salt  of  hydrochloric  acid? 

PUPIL:     Sodium  hydrochlorate. 

TEACHER:  Is  common  salt  usually  called  sodium  hydrochlorate  in  the 

PUPIL:     Na  Cl. 

TEACHER:     Suppose  I  want  to  name  it?     What  is  its  formula? 

PUPIL:     Sodium  hydrochlorate. 

TEACHER:  Is  it  called  sodium  hydrochlorate?  I  never  speak  of  it  as 
sodium  hydrochlorate. 

PUPIL:     Sodium  chloride. 

TEACHER:  In  this  case,  the  reason  why  we  call  it  sodium  chloride 
instead  of  sodium  hydrochlorate  is  what?  What  name  do  we  give  to  this 
(Cu  0}? 

PUPIL:     Copper  oxide. 

TEACHER:     H  S? 

PUPIL:     Hydrogen  sulphide. 

TEACHER:     What  name  do  I  give  to  this?      (Na  Cl) ? 

PUPIL:     Sodium  chloride. 

2O      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:  Why  do  I  name  it  with  a  name  that  ends  in  "  ide  "  instead 
of  calling  it  sodium  hydrochlorate? 

PUPIL  :     It  only  has  two  elements  in  it. 

TEACHER:  All  right;  and  substances  that  have  only  two  elements  in 
them  are  called  what? 

PUPIL:     "  ides." 

TEACHER:  The  real  name  for  this  is  sodium  hydrochlorate,  but  we  call 
it  sodium  chloride,  because  it  has  only  two  elements  in  it;  what  are  the 
tiro  elements  in  sodium  chloride? 

PUPIL:     Sodium  and  chlorine. 

TEACHER:     What  do  you  know  about  the  physical  properties  of  sodium? 

PUPIL:     Put  sodium  in  water  and  hydrogen  is  obtained. 

TEACHER:     Physical  or  chemical  property? 

PUPIL  :     Chemical. 

TEACHER  :     /  asked  for  physical  property. 

PUPIL  :     It  is  a  soft  metal. 

TEACHER:  That  is  the  peculiarity  about  it,— a  soft  metal.  Here  is 
chlorine,  you  have  never  seen  it  before.  We  are  going  to  make  some  of 
it  from  the  salt  you  have  made  in  the  laboratory,  but  at  present  I  made 
some  chlorine  from  other  salt  to  show  you  how  it  looked.  It  is  a  decidedly 
green  gas.  You  have  not  made  any  gas  before  that  had  a  color;  all 
the  gases  you  have  made  have  been  colorless  gases.  Colored  gas  and 
sodium  go  together  to  make  this  compound  Na  Cl.  You  cannot  tell  any- 
thing at  all  about  the  properties  of  a  compound  by  "knowing  something 
about  the  elements  that  go  to  make  it  up,  can  you?  And  you  cannot 
tell  anything  about  an  element  from  knowing  about  the  compound  it 
comes  from.  Does  sodium  suggest  to  you  common  salt?  This  salt  is  a  very 
valuable  compound  in  the  household,  we  use  it  every  day,  and  know  how 
important  it  is.  I  want  you  to  notice  that  the  physical  properties  of  that 
substance  are  not  like  these  elements.  Imagine  anybody  trying  to  season 
his  food  with  chlorine.  And  yet  salt  is  a  very  valuable  compound,  and  the 
elements  taken  by  themselves  would  be  exceedingly  injurious  to  life.  Sup- 
pose you  were  asked  to  find  the  molecular  weight  of  this  compound,  Na  Cl, 
how  would  you  find  it?  Don't  know  how  to  find  the  molecular  weight? 
v,  do  you?  Do  you,  Frances?  Have  you  ever  found  it? 

PUPIL:     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Yes,  once  or  twice.  How  do  you  find  it  in  the  case  of 
sodium  chloride?  What  will  I  have  to  add  together? 

PUPIL:     Weights  of  the  elements  that  are  in  it. 

TEACHER:     Of  course;  what  is  the  molecular  weight  of  salt? 

PUPIL:     58.5. 

TEACHER  :     To  find  out  the  percentage  of  sodium  in  sodium  chloride. 


TEACHER:     Can  you  tell  me,  roughly,  what  percentage  that  would  be; 
suppose  I  scratch  off  some  of  this. 
PUPIL:     About  30  or  40  per  cent. 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  21 

TEACHER:  About  two-fifths,  isn't  it?  Somewhere  around  40  per  cent. 
Put  a  question  marie  after  it.  Well,  if  the  percentage  of  sodium  is  40 
per  cent,  what  is  the  percentage  of  chloride,  George? 

PUPIL:     60  per  cent. 

TEACHER:  60  per  cent  of  chloride  in  common  salt;  what  percentage  in 
an  ounce  of  common  salt,  Alice? 

ALICE:     The  same  proportion. 

TEACHER:  Of  course,  the  same  proportion;  and  if  I  should  tell  you 
that  an  ounce  of  common  salt  is  about  28  grams  of  common  salt,  could 
you  tell  me  how  many  grams  of  chlorine  I  could  get  out  of  common  salt? 

PUPIL:     60  per  cent. 

TEACHER:  And  that  is  about  17  grams  out  of  an  ounce  of  common 
salt;  how  could  I  find  out  how  many  liters  of  chlorine,  roughly  speaking, 
in  an  ounce  of  common  salt;  how  could  I  find  out? 

PUPIL  :     You  must  know  the  weight  of  a  liter. 

TEACHER:  If  I  told  you  that  chlorine  is  35.5  times  as  heavy  as 
hydrogen,  could  you  tell  me  how  to  find  the  weight  of  chlorine,  Margaret? 

MARGARET:     Multiply  that  by  the  weight  of  a  liter  of  hydrogen. 

TEACHER:     What  is  the  weight  of  a  liter  of  hydrogen,  Ruth? 

PUPIL  :     98/1000. 

TEACHER:  —of  a  gram.  If  I  multiply  I  get  something  like  3.15;  how 
can  I  find  out  how  many  liters  there  are  in  17  grams  of  chlorine  gas,  Alice? 

ALICE:     I  don't  know. 

TEACHER:  Do  you  know  the  weight  of  one  liter  of  chlorine  gas?  Which 
figure  on  the  board  represents  that? 

PUPIL  :     3.15. 

TEACHER:     If  one  liter  weighs  3.15,  how  many  liters  in  17  grams? 

PUPIL:     You  divide. 

TEACHER:     Tes,  divide  what? 

PUPIL:     17  into — 

TEACHER:     Into  what? 

PUPIL:     By  three  and  a  half. 

While  the  students  in  the  Department  of  Secondary  Education 
of  Teachers  College  were  analyzing  some  stenographic  reports, 
they  were  asked  to  comment  upon  the  relative  amount  of  teacher 
and  pupil  activity.  They  went  about  it  in  a  most  systematic 
way,  counting  the  lines  or  the  words  spoken  by  the  teacher  and 
pupils.  One  may  say  with  a  degree  of  fairness  that  this  is  not  a 
gauge  of  activity  because  it  takes  no  account  of  subjective  activity ; 
however,  it  does  indicate  with  sufficient  accuracy  the  amount  of 
time  consumed  by  teacher  and  pupils  in  oral  expression.  I  have 
had  the  method  followed  with  other  stenographic  reports,  and  I 
present  the  totals,  giving  the  percentage  of  teacher  and  pupil 
activity  in  each  case. 

22      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 



Teacher  activity      Pupil  activity 

1.     History 80  20 

L.         "         57  42 

3.  "         59  41 

4.  "         75  25 

5.  "        62  38 

6.  "         58  42 

7.  English 29  71 

8.  "         60  40 

9.  "        43  57 

10.  "         71  29 

11.  "         64  36 

"         46  54 

13.  Latin 60  40 

14.  Science 80  20 

15.  "         75  25 

16.  Mathematics 67 »  33 

17.  "  90s  10 

18.  Modern  Language  . . . , 67  «  33 

19.  "  70  30 

20.  "  57  43 

Average 64  *  36 

After  reading  the  Stenographic  Lesson  Reports  published  in  the 
TEACHERS  COLLEGE  RECORD,  September,  1910,  the  principal  of  a 
city  school  wrote  me  that  he  was  prompted  to  a  tour  of  inspec- 
tion in  his  school  to  see  if  his  teachers  were  doing  the  large  amount 
of  work  that  seemed  to  characterize  teacher  activity  in  the  Reports. 
By  a  random  estimate  he  placed  the  percentage  of  teacher  activity 
at  85  per  cent,  95  per  cent,  and  in  a  few  instances  TOO  per  cent 
(where  he  found  teachers  lecturing).  His  investigation  brought 
him  promptly  to  the  conclusion  that  the  reason  why  our  pupils 
gain  so  little  in  intellectual  power  is  because  our  teachers  do  the 
intellectual  work. 

THIRD:  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  that  whenever 
teachers,  either  individually  or  collectively,  preserve  such  a  pace 
for  any  length  of  time,  the  largest  educational  assets  that  can  be 
reckoned  are  verbal  memory  and  superficial  judgment.  It  is  quite 

1  The  average  for  the  series  shows  teacher  activity  64  per  cent  and  the 
pupil  activity  36  j.« T  i-mt.  wH.-li  means  that  in  twenty  class  rooms  selected 
at  random  in  cur  best  schools  two-thirds  of  the  oral  expression  was  that 
of  the  teacher,  while  the  other  third  was  divided  amongst  the  20  or  40  pupils 

LM  room. 

'  Two  lessons  in  mathematics  and  one  in  modern  language  are  designedly 
Inpmental  lessons. 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  23 

obvious  that  with  the  rapid  fire  method  of  questioning  there  is 
no  time  allowed  a  pupil  to  go  very  far  afield  in  his  experience  in 
order  to  recall  or  to  associate  ideas  in  fruitful  ways.  He  is  called 
upon  merely  to  reflect  somebody  else — the  author  of  his  text- 
book generally — in  small  and  carefully  dissected  portions,  or  to 
give  forth  snap  judgments  at  the  point  of  the  bayonet.  The 
following  short  sequence  of  questions  illustrates  my  meaning: 

Do  you  think  Julius  Caesar  or  Augustus  the  first  o-mperor?  Why? 
(Judgment  given  by  text-book.) 

Give  me  the  succession  of  rulers  after  Augustus. 

Do  you  know  who  succeeded  Augustus?  (Several  questions  finally 
brought  answer  Tiberius.) 

What  relation  was  he  to  Augustus? 

What  is  the  present  principle  of  succession  in  England,  for  instance? 
(Answered  in  part  and  at  random  by  two  or  three  pupils,  and  the  in- 

What  was  Augustus  technically? 

What  was  he  officially? 

and  so  on  through  sixty  questions  and  sixty  answers  in  a  thirty- 
three  minute  period,  an  average  of  two  questions  and  two  answers 
per  minute.  And  this  was  by  no  means  an  extreme  lesson ;  in 
fact,  it  was  one  of  more  than  ordinary  interest.  On  the  whole 
it  was  representative  of  the  best  type  of  question-and-answer  reci- 
tation in  history ;  but  even  with  this  relatively  moderate  pace  in 
questioning,  what  opportunity  could  possibly  be  given  to  pupils 
to  get  beyond  the  realm  of  superficial  memory  of  the  text? 

FOURTH  :  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  that  there 
ds  no  time  in  the  mechanics  of  the  school  room  to  cultivate  the 
gentle  art  of  expression.  The  query  goes  up  from  educators  and 
thoughtful  parents  everywhere,  "  Why  do  our  young  people  ex- 
press themselves  so  badly  ?  "  "  What  are  our  schools  doing  to 
cultivate  the  powers  of  speech  ? "  The  only  way  to  develop 
powers  of  speech  is  to  give  opportunity  for  their  exercise  under 
skilled  guidance.  When  the  day's  work — yes,  the  week's  work, — 
is  so  largely  given  over  to  rapid  questioning,  there  is  no  time  for 
niceties  of  speech.  When  there  are  from  two  to  five  answers  per 
minute,  each  supposedly  reflecting  a  mental  process,  there  is  little 
time  given  to  correction  of  crudities  in  utterance;  furthermore, 
it  frequently  seems  that  the  teacher  is  so  gratified  to  catch  a  glim- 
mer of  an  idea  from  a  pupil,  that  he  will  promptly  seize  it, 

24      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

amplify  it,  clothe  it  fittingly,  the  pupil  meanwhile  thinking  he  has 
said  something  creditable.  Why  does  the  teacher  do  this  ?  For 
some  reason  that  is  real  or  imaginary  he  has  set  himself  a  pace 
and  he  cannot  allow  the  time  necessary  for  a  pupil  to  recall,  asso- 
ciate and  express  an  idea.  If  this  happened  occasionally  one 
might  consider  it  justified,  but  it  is  a  very  common  situation  with 
high  pressure  questioners. 

I  quote  from  the  introductory  pages  of  an  English  lesson  every 
answer  representing  the  oral  expression  of  the  pupils  for  the  first 
twenty  minutes  of  the  class  period. 


On  the  second  syllable. 
I  don't  know. 
Too  choppy. 

By  flashes  was  the  darkened  wood  lighted. 
I  think  "The  darkened  wood  by  flashes  was  lit  up." 
No,  too  many  syllables  in  the  first  part. 
"  Blinding  to  sight." 
Can  you  have  any  rhyme  in  blank  verse? 
Too  many  syllables. 
That  is  a  rhyme. 
No,  I  don't  think  so. 
Three  out  of  five. 
Four  out  of  five. 

"  Rain  "  and  "  twain  "  a  rhyme. 
When  he  started  to  draw  the  circle. 

Very  good. 

' '  Dark  and  awesome  wood. ' ' 
"  Runes  and  rhymes." 
The  ball  of  fire. 
The  wind  snapping  the  trees. 
A  couple  of  places  it  wasn't  correct. 
The  second  line. 

The  cakes  of  ice — an  extra  syllable. 

' '  The  sky  is  dyed  with  red  and  gold  ' ' — that  was  very  good ;  and  where 
the  lights  began  to  come  out,  you  can  fairly  see  them  come  out. 
The  "  Hudson's  highway." 

The  crash  of  the  ice  doesn't  sound  quite  like  the  rest  of  it  does. 
I  thought  that  was  good. 
According  to  the  tide. 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  25 

I  think  it  makes  you  think  a  little  of  the  description  of  the  water  snakes, 
the  first  part. 

I  think  ' '  When  the  ice  went  floating  by,  green  as  emerald. ; ' 

The  way  it  went  floating  by. 

"  Cracked  and  groaned  and  roared  and  howled. " 


An  extra  syllable  in  "  and  hid  them  in  the  seams  of  rock  upon  the 
mountain  side." 


Isn't  that  too  long,  "  and  now  the  South  wind  drifted  by?" 

The  last  line  is  still  too  long. 

I  don't  think  "And  thus  the  butterflies  were  made  "  is  long  enough. 


There  is  a  good  choice  of  words  in  "And  lifted  up  on  many  colored 
wings. ' ' 

About  the  waves  lapping  on  the  shore. 

I  have  set  the  answers  alone  in  this  way  with  intent  to  make 
them  stand  for  what  they  are  in  the  way  of  oral  expression.  If 
I  had  quoted  the  full  text  of  the  lesson,  the  reader  would  prob- 
ably have  been  impressed,  as  the  observer  was,  with  certain  con- 
tent values,  and  might  not  have  observed  that  the  individual  pupils 
were  given  almost  no  opportunity  for  oral  expression.  Up  to  this 
point  the  teacher  was  doing  85  per  cent  of  the  work ;  the  pupils, 
collectively,  15  per  cent. 

FIFTH  :  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  that  there  is 
little  thought  given  to  the  needs  of  individuals.  The  teacher  sets 
the  pace  in  his  questioning:  the  pupils  follow  as  a  body,  or  drop 
by  the  wayside.  When  pupils  become  interested  in  their  work 
and  begin  to  think  for  themselves,  it  is  very  natural  for  them  to 
ask  questions,  and  they  will  do  it  invariably  if  allowed  to  do  so. 
In  the  elementary  school,  the  children  are  encouraged  to  seek  in- 
formation, but  in  high  school  there  is  no  time  apparently  for  indi- 
vidual initiative.  Take  what  the  text-book  gives  you  and  be 
satisfied,  seems  to  be  the  watchword  of  many  class  rooms.  A 
glance  through  the  stenographic  reports  shows  that  few  questions 
are  asked  by  the  pupils,  and  when  asked,  they  are  passed  over 
apologetically  or  deferred  to  a  more  convenient  season.  The  mo- 
ment we  admit  that  we  ask  from  75  to  175  questions  in  a  class 
period,  we  commit  ourselves  as  "  drivers  "  of  youth  instead  of 
"  leaders  " ;  drill  masters  instead  of  educators. 

SIXTH  :  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  that  we  are 
coming,  more  and  more,  to  make  the  class  room  the  place  for 

26      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

displaying  knowledge  instead  of  a  laboratory  for  getting  and 
using  it.  At  the  close  of  a  class  hour,  the  teacher  assigns  a 
lesson  for  the  next  day;  the  pupils  take  the  books  home  for 
the  purpose  of  learning  the  lesson ;  the  following  day  the  teacher 
gives  the  pupils  the  opportunity  to  display  how  much  or  how 
little  they  learned.  In  some  cases  this  represents  the  process 
of  class  activity  from  the  beginning  of  the  year  to  the  end. 
Hearing  the  lesson  or,  quite  aptly,  "  backing  the  book  "  is  the 
function  of  education.  There  is  little  effort  made  to  adjust 
or  use  knowledge  so  acquired,  or  to  work  it  over  with  knowledge 
previously  acquired. 

SEVENTH  :  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  that  in 
actual  practice  there  is  very  little  effort  put  forth  to  teach  our 
boys  and  girls  to  be  self-reliant,  independent  mental  workers. 
The  discrepancy  between  our  theory  and  practice  is  nowhere 
more  patent.  With  the  tremendous  pressure  incident  to  the  re- 
hearsal of  questions  numbering  from  seventy  to  one  hundred 
and  seventy,  for  the  purpose  of  covering  every  conceivable  issue 
expressed  in  the  pages  of  a  text  assignment,  the  teacher  loses 
sight  of  the  fact  that  he  has  a  youth  to  teach  through  the 
medium  of  his  subject.  There  is  no  time  to  teach  him  how  to 
study:  how  to  organize  subject  matter,  how  to  judge  relative 
worths  of  facts  studied,  what  to  memorize.  Even  if  the  teacher 
himself  possesses  a  plan  of  work  that  is  in  itself  a  model  of 
organization,  its  value  is  likely  to  be  lost  sight  of  in  the  rapidity 
and  intensity  of  questioning  activity.  If  there  is  no  time  for  the 
teacher's  own  fine  intellectual  work  to  be  made  apparent  it  is 
not  to  be  expected  that  time  will  be  found  for  the  slower  process 
of  forming  and  fixing  habits  of  study  with  boys  and  girls. 

There  is  no  use  in  claiming  to  teach  boys  and  girls  how  to 
study,  and  how  to  command  their  own  intellectual  forces  by  the 
current  practice  of  keeping  them  at  the  point  of  the  bayonet  in 
rehearsal  of  text-book  facts  at  the  rate  of  two  or  four  per 

IN  CONCLUSION:  The  large  number  of  questions  suggests  an 
almost  total  absence,  in  the  practice  of  our  class  rooms,  of  any 
psychological  principles  underlying  aims  or  methods.  We  be- 
lieve that  youth  is  the  time  in  which  to  form  habits  of  thought 
and  action.  We  believe  that  habits  can  be  formed  by  "  focaliza- 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  27 

tion  plus  drill  in  attention."1  We  believe  that  we  can  fix  habits 
only  by  giving  them  exercise;  that  they  will  function  as  they 
are  taught  to  function,  and  for  the  purposes  for  which  they 
are  taught  to  function.  Our  professional  creed  includes  all 
these  tenets  and  more.  Now  we  desire  to  train  pupils  to  habits 
of  independent  thinking.  There  is  no  honest  teacher  living  who 
would  disclaim  this  aim  for  his  school  or  his  class  room,  and  yet 
with  the  customary  practices  set  forth  above,  teachers  furnish 
little  or  no  incentive  to  independent  thinking.  We  all  know  that 
boys  and  girls  show  evidences  of  good  healthy  intellectual  initia- 
tive in  affairs  outside  the  class  room,  but  there  is  not  much  op- 
portunity for  it  in  class ;  if  they  think  at  all  they  must  think  in 
the  groove  with  everybody  else.  What  has  become  of  our 
psychological  aim? 

We  possess  another  educative  aim  in  our  desire  to  broaden 
the  intellectual  horizon  of  our  pupils.  This  may  be  accom- 
plished by  inviting  or  compelling  students  to  make  associations 
of  new  with  old  experiences.  The  teacher's  mission  is  to  furnish 
the  incentive  for  the  making  of  many  associations,  not  the  asso- 
ciations themselves.  This  aim  can  never  be  realized  by  assum- 
ing the  speed  of  the  Twentieth  Century  Limited  through  the 
rehearsal  of  text-book  lessons,  day  in,  day  out,  following  an 
introduction  such  as  this: 

Where  does  to-day's  lesson  begin,  Miss  A? 

Will  you  recite  the  first  paragraph,  Miss  B? 

Is  that  right,  Miss  C? 

Will  you  go  on  from  there,  Miss  D? 

Where  have  you  heard  of  the  Ethiopians  before,  Miss  E? 

We  recognize  as  another  immediate  aim  of  instruction  that 
our  pupils  should  form  the  habit  of  standing  in  a  dignified 
manner  before  their  fellows,  and  giving  expression  to  a  thought 
in  concise  and  correct  form.  This  certainly  seems  to  be  a  simple 
requirement  easily  fulfilled ;  yet  in  our  practice  we  are  in  such  a 
hurry  to  snatch  a  bit  of  an  answer  here  and  a  bit  there  that  a  boy 
is  allowed  to  shamble  to  his  feet — astride  of  his  chair  possibly — 
mumble  the  words  "  crossed  the  Hudson  at  West  Point "  and 
slink  back  into  his  seat.  It  is  not  worth  while — there  is  too 

1  Bagley,  The  Educative  Process,  p.  123. 

28      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

much  else  to  do — to  stop  for  crudities  in  manner  and  speech ! 
Thus  the  gap  widens  between  our  professional  aims  and  our 
daily  practices. 

A  school  principal  recently  sent  the  following  notice  to  his 
teachers:  Please  write  out  for  me  just  what  you  have  done 
this  week  in  habit- formation  with  your  classes  in  English  (his- 
tory, science,  modern  language,  etc.)  He  nearly  caused  a  stam- 
pede amongst  his  teachers.  He  was  asking  them  to  measure 
their  daily  practices  by  the  side  of  their  professional  aims,  and 
to  reveal  in  detail  their  methods  of  applying  their  psychology 
to  actual  teaching. 

In  the  early  days  of  my  teaching  I  was  called  upon  to  plan 
my  course  of  study  for  the  entire  year  in  the  first-year  high 
school  English  and  to  indicate  for  each  lesson  just  what  psycho- 
logical aims  I  would  strive  to  realize.  The  column  reserved  for 
these  statements  read  something  like  this : 

Memory,  emotions,  will; 
Emotions,  will,  memory; 
Memory,  judgment,  will; 
Will,  judgment,  memory. 

The  real  difficulty  lay  in  trying  to  avoid  the  appearance  of 
monotony  in  arranging  the  limited  assortment  of  words  one 
hundred  and  seventy-five  times.  However,  when  the  syllabus 
was  once  completed,  my  difficulties  were  at  an  end,  for  I  could 
teach  my  lessons  exactly  as  I  pleased  and  was  never  again  seri- 
ously troubled  by  the  relative  order  of  will,  judgment,  and  emo- 
tions. It  would  have  been  a  much  more  serious  matter  if  I 
had  been  called  upon  at  the  end  of  the  sixth,  or  the  twelfth, 
or  the  twentieth  week  to  tell  what  specific  things  I  had  done 
that  week  in  training  judgments  in  English  work  through  the 
medium  of  Silas  Marner.  Such  a  request  would  have  revealed 
my  line  of  questioning  in  order  to  be  in  any  way  specific.  I 
believe  that  supervision  needs  to  force  such  issues  as  this  if 
psychology  is  ever  to  take  its  rightful  place  in  instruction. 

These  pages  offer  a  somewhat  severe  arraignment  of  class- 
room practice,  I  confess,  and  yet  I  believe  the  situation  to  be 
modestly  stated  and  the  conditions  to  be  generally  characteristic. 
The  teachers  who  were  chosen  for  the  official  observations 
quoted  and  reported  were  all  men  and  women  of  unquestioned 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  29 

attainments,  many  of  them  with  qualifications  for  leadership 
sufficient  to  carry  their  pupils  to  the  highest  goal  set  by  modern 
educational  theory.  I  am  convinced  that  the  faults  in  practice, 
since  they  are  so  general,  must  be  attributed  to  the  absence  of 
any  stable  educational  goal,  and  to  shifting  purposes  in  teach- 
ing, and  not  to  inefficiency  of  individual  teachers.  When  I  find 
a  teacher  of  history  wearing  himself  out  in  a  nervous  struggle 
to  quiz  minutely  upon  five  pages  of  text,  never  allowing  thought 
to  wander  from  the  confines  of  those  pages,  I  am  led  to  believe 
that  his  educational  goal  is  the  storing  of  memory.  It  certainly 
is  his  goal  in  practice,  if  not  in  theory,  and  it  is  practice  that 
counts.  Such  a  good  teacher  should  not  be  allowed  to  live  up 
to  such  a  false  goal.  When  I  find  a  teacher  of  English 
doing  artistic  work  in  "  appreciation "  and  wholly  neglecting 
oral  expression,  my  inference  is  that  "  appreciation  of  litera- 
ture "  is  his  only  goal.  When  one  teacher  of  modern  language 
confines  his  work  to  the  translation  of  the  foreign  text  into 
English,  it  is  quite  evident  that  his  goal  is  different  from  that 
of  the  teacher  who  puts  the  foreign  language  into  use  as  the 
medium  of  conversation  and  study  of  literature.  These  are 
some  of  the  problems  of  supervision :  To  unify  the  purposes  of 
teaching,  and  then  to  see  to  it  that  teachers  measure  their  prac- 
tices by  these  unified  purposes.  Until  there  is  some  unity  in 
purpose  we  cannot  censure  teachers  altogether  for  vacillating, 
wasteful  and  negative  methods. 


The  inference  may  perhaps  be  drawn  from  the  foregoing 
pages  that  efficiency  may  be  tested  wholly  by  the  number  of 
questions;  that  the  quality  of  the  questions,  hence  the  qual- 
ity of  instruction,  bears  a  direct  relation  to  the  number 
of  questions.  If  this  is  true,  then  with  increase  in  quan- 
tity there  must  be  decrease  in  quality  and,  conversely, 
with  decrease  in  quantity  there  must  be  relative  increase 
in  quality.  It  would  seem  that  we  might  formulate  a  rule  that 
would  read  thus :  If  a  teacher  asks  something  like  two  hundred 
or  more  questions  in  a  class  period,  the  quality  of  those  ques- 

30      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

tions  must  be  reckoned  at  a  very  low  value,  say  25  per  cent; 
if  he  questions  at  the  rate  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  per  class- 
room period,  then  we  admit  a  slightly  higher  valuation  in  qual- 
ity, perhaps  50  per  cent ;  if  he  gets  down  to  one  hundred'  ques- 
tions, the  efficiency  mark  would  rise  correspondingly  to  75  per 
cent;  and  with  fifty  questions  in  a  recitation,  the  standard  of 
quality  would  approximate  100  per  cent. 

If  we  could  find  that  there  is  a  direct  relation  between  quan- 
tity and  quality,  it  would  be  a  relatively  easy  matter  to  increase 
the  efficiency  of  instruction  at  once  in  all  schools  by  issuing  an 
ultimatum  to  the  effect  that  no  teacher  should  ever  ask  more 
than  eighty,  or  seventy,  or  sixty  questions  in  a  class  period.  I 
am  sufficiently  awake  to  the  evils  of  rapid  questioning  to  believe 
that  such  a  mandate  would  bring  certain  relief  to  the  situation 
if  it  accomplished  nothing  more  than  to  remove  the  nervous 
tension.  It  might,  however,  be  only  a  partial  remedy. 

Such  a  sweeping  inference  regarding  the  relation  between  the 
quantity  and  the  quality  of  questions  may  be  unsafe.  It  is  pos- 
sible, however,  to  test  the  premise  by  making  a  comparison  be- 
tween the  lessons  containing  the  greatest  number  of  questions 
and  those  containing  the  smallest  number.  For  this  purpose  I 
have  divided  the  twenty  stenographic  lessons  into  two  groups : 
Group  I,  including  the  lessons  with  fewer  than  ninety  questions ; 
Group  II,  including  the  lessons  with  ninety  questions  or  more, 
the  number  ninety  being  a  somewhat  arbitrary  division  line.  By 
this  classification  the  lessons  fall  into  the  following  groups : 


Group  I  Group  II 

Questions  Questions 

History 41            History 90 

66                  "        94 

"        125 

"        142 

English 69            English 94 

70                 "        129 

" 73 

"        74 

Science 86             Science 122 

Latin 105 

Mathematics 70            Mathematics 165 

Modern    Language 123 

"                 161 

"  196 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  31 

The  history  lesson  with  forty-one  questions  and  the  modern 
language  lesson  with  one  hundred  and  ninety-six  represent  the 
extremes  of  questioning  activity.  It  is  obviously  impossible  to 
make  any  close  comparison  between  history  questions  and  Ger- 
man questions,  and  yet  it  is  possible  to  draw  from  each  lesson 
the  aims  and  purposes  of  the  respective  teachers  in  using  their 
subject  as  a  medium  of  instruction,  and  to  measure  these  results. 
The  history  lesson  is  quoted  in  part  on  page  17.  There  is 
sufficient  of  the  content  to  show. that  the  purpose  of  the  lesson 
is  to  rehearse  facts  and  to  acquire  more  facts.  It  is  a  "  pour- 
ing in  "  process — pouring  into  the  note-books  an  assortment  of 
facts  to  be  consumed  in  preparation  for  examination.  But  there 
are  only  forty-one  questions,  hence  we  should  like  to  rank  the 
quality  of  instruction  very  high  indeed,  but  in  justice  it  cannot 
be  done. 

The  German  lesson,  on  the  other  hand,  is  one  in  which  the 
attention  of  a  group  of  ten-year-old  pupils  is  held  at  the  point 
of  the  bayonet  for  forty-five  minutes  to  interpret  one  hundred 
and  ninety-six  sentences  in  a  foreign  language,  and  to  give  back 
one  hundred  and  ninety-six  replies,  all  in  the  strange  tongue.  I 
quote  a  brief  selection  to  show  the  type  of  questions.1 

Dr.  W. :     Was  machen  denn  diese  Kinder  hier? 

CLASS  :     Sie  machen  einen  Schneemann. 

Dr.  W. :     Nimm  den  Stock.      Zeig  mir  den  Schneemann. 

GIRL:     Ich  zeige  dir  den  Schneemann. 

CLASS:     Du  zeigst  den  Schneemann. 

Er  zeigt  den  Schneemann. 

Sie  zeigt  den  Schneemann. 
Dr.  W. :     Noch  einmal!     Ich  zeige  Ihnen. 
CLASS:     Ich  zeige  Ihnen  den  Schneemann. 

Du  zeigst  Ihnen  den  Schneemann. 

Er  zeigt  Ihnen  den  Schneemann. 

Sie  zeigt  Ihnen  den  Schneemann. 
Dr.  W.:     Hat  der  Schneemann  einen  Hut? 
CLASS  :     Nein,  er  hat  keinen  Hut. 
Dr.  W. :     Zeige  mir  die  Augen  des  Schneemannes. 
CLASS:     Hier  sind  die  Augen  des  Schneemannes. 
Dr.  W. :     Zeige  mir  die  Nase  des  Schneemannes. 
CLASS  :     Hier  ist  die  Nase  des  Schneemannes. 
Dr.  W. :     Zeige  mir  den  Mund  des  Schneemannes. 
CLASS:     Hier  ist  der  Mund  des  Schneemannes. 

*Max  Walter's  German  Lessons,  p.   105.     (Scribner,   1911.) 

32      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

Dr.  W.:     Hier  1st  der  Hals  des  Schneemannes.     Noch  einmal! 

CLASS  (repeating  three  times)  :     Hier  1st  der  Hals  des  Schneemannes. 

Dr.  W.:  Zeige  mir  die  Zilhne  des  Schneemannes.  Siehst  du  die  Zahnet 
Er  hat  keine  Zfthne;  er  1st  zu  alt;  sie  sind  ausgef alien,  er  muss  zum 
Zahnarzt.  Was  ist  ihm  ausgef  alien — fallen  out? 

CLASS:     Die  Zahne  sind  ihm  ausgef  alien. 

Dr.  W. :  Gib  deinem  Freunde,  deinem  zweiten  Freunde  in  der  zweiten 
Reihe  den  Stock. 

L:     Ich  gebe  dir  den  Stock. 

CLASS:     Du  gibst  ihm  den  Stock,  sie  gibt  ihm  den  Stnck. 

Dr.  W.:     Gib  ihm  den  Stock. 

GIRL:     Ich  gebe  dir  den  Stock. 

BOY:     Du  gibst  mir  den  Stock. 

CLASS:     Sie  gibt  ihm  den  Stock. 

Dr.  W.:     Noch  einmal,  lauter! 

CLASS:     Sie  gibt  ihm  den  Stock. 

Dr.  W.  (to  girl)  :     Was  hat  sie  ihm  gegeben?     Meinen  Hut? 

CLASS:     Nein,  sie  hat  ihm  den  Stock  gegeben. 

Dr.  W. :     Hat  sie  ihm  meinen  Stock  gegeben? 

CLASS:     Sie  hat  ihm  deinen  Stock  gegeben. 

Dr.  W.:     Zeige  mir  das  Madchen,  das  ihm  den  Stock  gibt. 

BOY:     Ich  zeige  den  Madchen. 

Dr.  W.:     Das  Madchen. 

CLASS  :     Ich  zeige  das  Madchen  das  ihm  den  Stock  gibt. 

Dr.  W.:     Ich  zeige  das  Madchen  das  dem  Schneemann  den  Stock  gibt. 

CLASS:     Ich  zeige  das  Madchen  das  dem  Schneemann  den  Stock  gibt. 

Dr.  W.:     Noch  einmal,  alle  zusammen! 

CLASS  (shouting) :  Er  zeigt  das  Madchen  das  dem  Schneemann  den 
Stock  gibt. 

Dr.  W.:     Lege  den  Stock  auf  den  Tisch. 

BOY:     Ich  lege  den  Stock  auf  den  Tisch. 

Dr.  W.:     Geh  auf  deinen  Platz. 

BOY:     Ich  gehe  auf  meinen  Platz. 

CLASS:     Du  gehst  auf  deinen  Platz.      Er  geht  auf  seinen  Platz. 

Here  the  questions  and  answers  are  brief  with  only  slight 
variation  in  the  construction.  The  purpose  of  the  lesson  is  to 
put  the  new  words  and  the  new  forms  of  the  foreign  tongue 
into  immediate  use.  The  recitation  is  a  laboratory  period  for 
getting  and  using  knowledge,  not  for  storing  it  away  in  a  note- 
book against  the  day  of  examination.  Hence  it  seems  evident 
that  the  history  lesson  with  its  limited  number  of  questions  fails 
in  efficiency  according  to  the  ideals  of  history  teaching;  and 
the  German  lesson,  with  its  large  number  of  questions,  ranks 
high  as  an  illustration  of  foreign  language  instruction. 

The  modern  language  lesson  reflecting  one  hundred  and  sixty- 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  33 

one  questions  is  similar  in  method  to  the  one  quoted,  with  the 
difference  that  it  is  adapted  to  pupils  of  high  school  age.  The 
lesson  of  one  hundred  and  twenty-three  questions  is  a  develop- 
mental lesson  in  modern  language.  The  mathematics  lesson  re- 
flecting one  hundred  and  sixty-five  questions  is  a  developmental 

Assuming  now  that  there  is  a  specific  purpose  in  short  ques- 
tions and  short  answers  (hence  more  of  them)  for  modern 
language  work  by  the  reform  method  (Reform  Metode)  and 
for  developmental  lessons  where  the  successive  steps  in  the  de- 
velopment are  short,  we  may  exclude  these  types  from  further 
consideration  and  turn  to  the  remaining  lessons  in  Groups  I  and 
II.  All  of  the  remaining  are  of  the  usual  type  of  question-and- 
answer  lesson  based  upon  text  and  home  study — the  kind  of 
recitation  we  find  in  a  large  majority  of  our  class  rooms.  It 
may  be  more  illuminating  to  compare  two  lessons  in  one  sub- 
ject. For  this  purpose  the  English  group  offers  contrasts,  the 
smallest  number  recorded  being  sixty-nine,  and  the  largest  one 
hundred  and  twenty-nine.  Both  lessons  were  given  in  the  same 
school  and  with  class  periods  that  were  identical. 

The  first  lesson  (69  questions)  is  outlined  by  the  teacher  as 
follows :  "  To-day  we  want  to  finish  our  work  on  Cooper,  recall 
some  of  the  facts  of  his  life,  some  of  the  things  he  did  and 
some  of  the  impressions  we  gained  from  reading  his  books  and 
reading  about  him."  The  second  lesson  (129  questions)  is  based 
upon  the  Fourth  Canto  of  "  The  Lady  of  the  Lake." 

Both  lessons  begin  with  "  the  telling  of  the  story  " :  Cooper's 
life;  the  story  in  the  Fourth  Canto.  Omitting  these  portions, 
I  will  quote  the  more  active  part,  a  good  half  of  each  lesson. 


After  a  reference  to  some  of  the  Leather  Stocking  stories  the 
teacher  asks :  "  What  do  you  think  of  sequels  as  a  rule,  in  the 
writing  of  books?  Are  any  of  your  favorite  stories  written 
with  sequels?  Mary  is  bothered  by  the  word  sequel;  who  can 
help  her  out  ?  What  is  a  sequel  ?  " 

PUPIL:  A  sequel  is  a  book  that  has  the  same  characters  in,  and  comes 
after  the  other  one. 

34      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:  Did  you  get  enough  to  understand  it?  George  says  a  sequel 
is  a  book  that  has  the  same  characters  in,  and  comes  after  the  first  story. 
Now,  do  you  know  any  sequel;  have  you  read  a  book  with  a  sequel? 

PUPIL:     Yes,  the  Iroquois. 

PUPIL:     Prisoners  of  Zenda. 

PUPIL:     Count  of  Monte  Cristo. 

PHILIP:     Monastery  and  the  Abbott. 

TEACHER:  I  am  thinking  of  some  good  old  standard  boy  and  girl 

PUPIL:     Pickwick  Papers. 

PUPIL:     Little  Women. 

TEACHER:  Yes;  I  was  going  back  to  Louisa  Alcott,  and  the  time  she 
had  to  satisfy  all  the  boys  and  girls. 

PUPIL:     Eight  Cousins. 

TEACHER:     Yes.    Do  you  like  sequels  as  a  rule? 

PUPIL:  It  depends  on  the  book.  If  the  first  book  is  not  interesting, 
you  don't  care  for  a  sequel,  and  if  it  is  you  want  to  go  en. 

TEACHER  :  Any  other  reasons  why  there  might  be  some  books  that  would 
not  demand  itf 

PUPIL:  Cooper  writes  so  you  don't  need  a  sequel,  he  writes  them  so 
well,  he  ends  his  stories. 

TEACHER:  A  book  that  needs  a  sequel  is  where  he  does  not  quite  finish, 
and  Cooper  seems  to  finish  all  his  stories. 

PUPIL:  You  cannot  have  a  book  end  up  tragically  and  then  have  a 
sequel  to  it. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  you  cannot  have  a  sequel  when  the  hero  dies. 

TEACHER:  Well,  as  a  rule  do  you  think  a  sequel  is  apt  to  be  so  suc- 
cessful a  book  as  the  first? 

PUPIL:  No;  for  after  the  first  you  get  kind  of  tired,  when  you  are 
reading  of  the  same  people. 

TEACHER:     How  do  you  think  the  author  feels? 

PUPIL:     I  guess  he  is  tired  of  writing  on  the  same  subject. 

TEACHER:  I  think  sometimes  an  author  is,  especially  a  sequel.  That 
is  one  thing  about  sequels,  Cooper  was  wonderfully  successful  as  far  as 
they  were  concerned. 

PUPIL:  I  don't  think  Dickens  got  tired  of  writing  sequels  to  Pick- 
wick Papers,  because  I  think  the  sequel  was  more  interesting  than  the 
first  book.  He  wanted  to  show  the  common  people  how  he  felt  about  it, 
and  he  thought  he  would  write  all  the  time  for  their  benefit. 

TEACHER:  The  characters  in  Pickwick  Papers  seem  to  be  so  real  you 
can  go  on  inventing  characters  for  them.  It  all  depends  on  the  book. 

ALFRED:  If  you  have  a  book,  and  at  the  end  you  have  the  story  all 
finished,  and  you  have  a  sequel,  it  is  like  another  story. 

TEACHER:  Yes,  that  is  true;  you  get  really  another  story,  as  we  have 
in  Cooper.  Cooper's  life  on  the  whole  seems  to  be  so  serene  and  com- 
fortable we  are  interested  to  know  he  did  have  a  little  trouble.  We  feel 
that  once  in  a  while  sorrow  is  an  inspiration  to  a  writer.  The  kind  of 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  35 

trouble  that  Cooper  had  was  not  the  kind  that  might  have  inspired  him 
to  write.  What  difficulties  did  he  have? 

PUPIL:     He  was  fond  of  quarreling. 

TEACHER:     What  about? 

PUPIL:  About  politics  and  his  writings;  I  think  he  thought  people 
treated  him  wrong. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  indeed;  what  time  did  that  trouble  come  in  his  life? 

ELSWORTH:  Towards  the  end  of  his  life  a  banquet  was  given  in  his 
honor,  and  he  refused  it,  and  brought  a  feeling  against  him,  but  before 
he  died  his  friends  planned  another  banquet,  but  he  died  before  it  was 

TEACHER:  Do  you  agree  with  Juliette  that  he  was  very  fond  of 
quarreling  ? 

PUPIL:     I  think  he  was  more  or  less  a  peaceful  man. 

PUPIL:  He  never  tried  to  pick  a  quarrel,  but  never  went  out  of  his 
way  to  stop  one. 

PUPIL:  He  was  always  convinced  he  was  in  the  right  when  they  argued 
against  him. 

PUPIL:     I  think  he  was  disagreeable  as  a  young  man. 

TEACHER:     What  makes  you  think  that? 

PUPIL:  It  just  said  in  a  book  I  read  that  he  was  rather  disagreeable, 
and  people  did  not  care  to  argue  with  him. 

TEACHER:     He  was  unwilling  to  see  the  other 's  point  of  view. 

TEACHER:  Let  us  see  what  these  quarrels  were  about;  what  about  his 
home  life,  did  he  have  a  happy  home? 

PUPIL:     I  think  he  had  a  fairly  happy  home. 

TEACHER:     Where  did  he  live? 

PUPIL:     He  lived  up  in  the  woods. 

TEACHER:  When  you  say  in  that  general  way  he  lived  up  in  the  woods, 
it  doesn't  sound  as  if  he  had  a  very  comfortable  home.  The  impression 
that  he  had  a  happy  home  is  right.  What  about  all  these  quarrels?  They 
evidently  had  nothing  to  do  with  domestic  affairs. 

PUPIL:     They  were  political  affairs. 

TEACHER:  The  politics  of  the  times.  Cooper,  you  remember,  had  spent 
a  little  part  of  his  life  just  previous  to  all  these  difficulties  in  Europe. 
Did  you  get  an  impression  about  that  right? 

PUPIL:  Yes,  in  France  he  had  a  chance  to  defend  his  country  and  that 
was  what  the  quarrels  were  about. 

TEACHER:  I  do  not  think  your  account  goes  very  much  into  detail 
there.  When  he  came  back  to  this  country,  he  found  that  he  felt  rather 
critical  toward  his  own  country,  just  as  perhaps  the  people  in  England 
and  in  France  had  felt  toward  America,  and  when  he  criticized  his 
country  you  can  imagine  the  attitude  of  America  and  Americans  toward 
Cooper.  You  may  be  perfectly  willing  to  criticize  your  own  country  but 
when  somebody  else  criticizes  it  how  quickly  you  resent  it.  Do  you  know 
any  other  author  who  criticized  America  pretty  sharply  and  aroused  con- 
siderable opposition  by  it? 

PUPIL:     Dickens  was  quite  sarcastic  about  America.      He  came  over  to 

36      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

America  and  went  to  the  White  House,  and  saw  how  the  government  went 
along,  and  just  at  that  time  we  were  having  a  lot  of  trouble;  it  was  just 
at  that  time  when — just  after  the  war,  and  things  were  not  going  nicely; 
there  were  great  debates;  and  when  he  went  back  to  England  he  wrote 
a  lot  of  sarcastic  things  about  American  senators. 

ALFRED:     I  think  he  wrote  the  bad  side  of  America. 

TEACHER:     Did  he  criticize  our  morals  or  our  manners? 

PUPIL:     Our  manners. 

TEACHER:  Very  largely  our  manners.  And  how  did  the  people  feel 
about  Dickens  after  he  had  gone  home? 

PUPIL:  He  was  treated  kindly  and  entertained  very  hospitably,  and 
they  thought  it  was  kind  of  mean  of  him  to  have  gotten  all  that  kindness 
shown  to  him  and  then  to  go  back  and  write  something  disagreeable. 

TEACHER:  It  was  not  what  guests  usually  do.  There  is  a  modern  Eng- 
lish writer  who  criticized  us  pretty  sharply  not  so  very  long  ago. 

PUPIL:  An  English  writer  always  thinks  he  knows  a  little  more  than 
he  does. 

TEACHER:  Don't  you  think  that  is  rather  the  attitude  that  America 
took  towards  the  criticism  of  our  manners? 

PUPIL:  You  hear  a  lot  about  an  Englishman;  he  comes  over  and  doesn't 
like  the  ways  here,  and  he  thinks  he  knows  it  all. 

TEACHER:  That  is  not  exactly  a  fair  attitude  to  take  on  our  part.  I 
am  thinking  of  a  modern  English  writer  who  came  over  and  visited  us, 
had  a  great  deal  of  kindness  shown  him,  and  then  went  back  and  criticized 
Americans.  Have  you  ever  heard  of  Kipling  criticizing  us?  So  we  find 
when  Cooper  came  back  and  criticized  his  own  people,  told  them  what 
they  had  left  undone,  they  resented  it,  and  the  last  years  of  his  life  were 
rather  stormy;  he  was  in  debates  as  to  political  questions  and  national 
questions  in  general.  With  what  grade  of  writers  do  you  associate  Cooper? 

PUPIL:  In  the  introduction  of  American  literature  in  the  class  with 

TEACHER:  An  English  writer  at  the  same  time;  by  the  way,  did  they 
ever  meet? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Yes,  they  met,  and  it  was  very  delightful  that  these  two 
romantic  authors  met  as  they  happened  to  do. 

TEACHER:     I  am  thinking  what  American  authors  he  was  friendly  with. 

PUPIL:     With  a  men's  club,  he  was  in  that  with  Lowell,  wasn't  he? 

TEACHER:  I  think  his  best  friends  were  men  that  were  very  prominent 
in  New  York  at  that  time,  Bryant  and  Irving,  and  it  mentions  quite  a 
few;  Chancellor  Kent. 

TEACHER:  Does  that  word  "  Chancellor  "  mean  anything  to  you?  To 
whom  does  that  word  mean  anything? 

PUPIL:     The  man  highest  in  a  college. 

TEACHER:  You  think  it  was  chancellor  of  a  college?  I  do  not  think 
it  was  meant  to  be  used  that  way  about  Kent. 

PUPIL:     I  think  it  was  some  kind  of  a  government  official. 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  37 

TEACHER:  Who  can  get  a  little  nearer?  Does  chancellor  mean  any- 
thing to  you  (addressing  pupil)  ? 

PUPIL:     Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer. 

PUPIL:  I  think  it  is  used  more  in  England,  it  has  something  to  do 
with  England. 

TEACHER:  You  think  it  is  an  English  term,  do  you?  And  was  no  one 
at  all  curious  about  it  when  you  read  " Chancellor  Kent"?  You  felt  per- 
fectly satisfied  to  say  to  yourself,  That  is  an  English  term,  or  it  means 
Head  of  a  University,  or  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer?  Juliette,  will  you 
remember  to  hold  the  class  responsible  for  it  next  time;  not  to  be  re- 
sponsible for  it,  but  to  hold  the  class  responsible?  We  have  had  a  number 
of  friends  of  Irving  mentioned,  and  friends  of  his  club.  What  was  the 
name  of  that  club? 

PUPIL:     The  Bread  and  Cheese  Club. 

TEACHER:     Was  Bryant  there? 

PUPIL:     Yes;  Oliver  Wendell  Holmes  and  Morse. 

TEACHER:     Was  he  a  member  of  the  original  club? 

PUPIL:     Later  on. 

TEACHER:     Morse  made  what  discovery? 

PUPIL  :     Telegraph. 

TEACHER:  It  was  a  club  composed  of  men  of  varying  talents.  Have 
you  ever  heard  of  another  club  where  the  men  got  together  and  talked 
of  their  professions,  literary  things,  and  perhaps  introducing  into  their 
number  men  of  other  professions, — famous  clubs? 

PUPIL:     Longfellow,  Lowell  and  Hawthorne. 

TEACHER:     I  do  not  believe  Hawthorne  was  a  member. 

PUPIL:     Benjamin  Franklin. 

TEACHER:  You  come  by  and  by  to  two  or  three  very  famous  clubs 
where  men  gathered  to  talk  about  literature  and  their  professions. 

PHILIP:     That  one — the  Hartford  Best? 

TEACHER:  Where  do  you  hear  of  them, — well,  Everett,  anything  else 
about  these  men? 

PUPIL:  They  were  mostly  poets,  I  think,  and  they  lived  in  and  around 
Hartford,  and  they  formed  a  club;  they  were  not  afterwards  known,  they 
never  became  very  great  writers. 

TEACHER:  There  were  some  very  well  known  writers;  and  that  little 
crowd  of  men  did  form  a  club. 

PUPIL  :     We  don 't  read  their  poetry  very  much  now,. 

TEACHER:  No,  rather  as  a  matter  of  curiosity;  the  crowd  of  men  I 
have  in  mind  you  will  come  across  soonest  is  Oliver  Goldsmith  and  Samuel 
Johnson,  in  England. 

I  want  to  announce  the  work  for  next  time,  and  I  want  to  hand  back 
to  you  the  themes  I  have  corrected,  and  I  shall  ask  you  to  bring  them 
next  time  so  that  we  may  enter  our  misspelled  words  in  our  books.  The 
work  for  next  time  is  to  take  a  portion  of  the  chapter  on  Bryant,  read  as 
far,  please,  in  that  chapter,  as  the  discussion  of  American  literature  at 
the  time  Bryant  wrote,  on  page  176;  that  covers  practically  the  whole 

38      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

of  Bryant's  life,  and  leaves  for  another  time  only  the  discussion  of  Bryant 
as  a  writer. 

The  first  word  misspelled  is  the  word  "  really/'  the  next  is  the  adverb 
"too/*  the  third  is  a  new  word,  the  word  " frivolous. "  How  do  you 
spell  that  wordf 

PUPIL  :     F-r-i-v-i-1-o-u-s. 

TEACHER:     How  will  you  put  it  down,  Frederick! 

FREDERICK  :     F-r-i-v-o-l-o-u-s. 

TEACHER:  Another  word,  "  tantalize  ";  George  Meyer,  how  are  you 
going  to  write  that? 

GEORGE:     T-a-n-t-a-1-i-z-e. 

TEACHER:  The  class  may  pass  back  to  your  own  room,  and  not  back 
to  my  room. 


TEACHER:  That  is  as  far  as  you  went;  a  good  place  to  stop,  in  one 
way;  whyf 

PUPIL:     Most  exciting. 

TEACHER:  An  effective,  dramatic  moment.  Anyone  who  has  any  further 
light  to  give  on  the  characters  of  these  people  we  are  speaking  about  f 
do  you  know  any  more  of  them  than  you  did  last  time? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Of  whom? 

PUPIL:  Koderick  Dhu. 

TEACHER:     What? 

PUPIL:     He  can  be  very  hospitable  and  courteous,  when  he  likes. 

TEACHER:     Anything  else? 

PUPIL  :  When  he  gave  the  signal,  and  the  men  jumped  from  the  bushes, — 
he  had  promised  to  take  Fitz  James  to  the  lowlands,  and  he  had  him 
right  in  his  power,  and  he  could  have  killed  him  if  he  had  wanted  to. 

TEACHER:     What  did  that  show, — the  fact  that  he  didn't? 

PUPIL:     That  he  was  true  to  his  word. 

TEACHER:     Truth  and  courtesy.     What  else? 

PUPIL:     Sense  of  fairness. 

TEACHER:     What  else?    Generosity? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Anything  else,  Miss  F.? 

Miss  F. :  Fitz  James  shows  'his  fearlessness  when  he  says  to  Eoderick 
he  isn't  afraid  of  him— 

PUPIL:     I  think  also  when  he  gave  this  ring  to  this  girl. 

TEACHER:     That  was  fair  and  gracious,  too.     Anything  more? 

PUPIL  :  He  was  a  warrior  too, — where  he  says  he  has  always  been  used 
to  fighting,  and  will  trust  to  his  sword. 

TEACHER:  And  there  is  something  else,  something  so  fine  that  other 
characters  talk  about  him;  where  were  the  women  and  children? 

PUPIL:     On  the  island.     (Laugh.) 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  39 

TEACHER:  Yes,  all  measures  taken  for  their  protection.  As  a  rule, 
do  the  characters  seem  lifelike? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Which  is  the  most  lifelike  one  to  you,  Mr.  J.? 

Mr.  J. :     I  think  Fitz  James. 

TEACHER:     How  many  suitors  has  Elaine,  by  the  way. 

PUPIL  :     Three. 

TEACHER:     Who  are  they? 

PUPIL:     Graeme,  Eoderick  Dhu,  and  Fitz  James. 

TEACHER:     Are  those  men  distinct,  three  suitors  or  three  distinct  men? 

PUPIL:     Three  distinct  men. 

TEACHER:  I  am  going  to  ask  you  to  write  about  this  next  time,  so 
think  about  it,  please.  From  the  beginning  has  the  story  flagged,  or  has 
it  gone  on  rapidly? 

PUPIL:     I  think  it  has  gone  on  rapidly. 

TEACHER:     No  halt  at  any  place,  nothing  to  retard  the  story? 

PUPIL:     No. 

TEACHER:  What  are  some  of  the  scenes,  that  stand  out  in  your  mind 
through  the  story? 

PUPIL:     You  mean  the  one  I  remember  best? 

TEACHER:     Yes,  the  one  you  remember  best. 

PUPIL:     This  last  scene  where  Sir  Eoderick — 

TEACHER:     What  happened? 

PUPIL:     Where  the  men  sprang  out  of  the  bushes. 

TEACHER:  One  of  the  most  dramatic  points  in  the  story.  Anything 

PUPIL:     The  return  of  Eoderick  in  the  First  Canto. 

TEACHER:  The  return  of  the  war  boats,  the  springing  of  the  men  from 
the  bushes  at  the  whistle;  Mr.  V.,  give  me  another  scene. 

Mr.  V.:     The  crazy  woman. 

TEACHER:     All  right,  what  about  her? 

Mr.  V.:  Where  Murdock  tries  to  kill  Fitz  James, — where  he  is  going 
to  kill  the  crazy  woman — 

TEACHER:     Call  her  Blanche,  if  you  like.     What  else? 

PUPIL:     Her  song. 

TEACHER:  Yes;  what  other  scene,  one  of  the  best  in  it,  no  one  has 
spoken  of  it. 

PUPIL:     I  think  the  quarrel  between  Malcolm  and  Eoderick. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  it  isn't  very  long,  is  it? 

PUPIL:     When  Douglas  refuses  to  allow  Ellen  to  marry  Eoderick. 

TEACHER:  That  is  a  moment  only;  I  want  something  a  little  more 
lengthy,  if  possible. 

PUPIL:     Where  Ellen  first  meets  the  stranger  in  the  boat. 

TEACHER:     What  else,  how  does  the  story  open? 

PUPIL:     The  hunt. 

TEACHER:  A  good  picture  of  the  hunt,  wasn't  it  well  told?  What 
makes  the  hunt  so  interesting,  Miss  P.? 

Miss  P. :     So  real. 

4O      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:     Where  does  your  interest  focus  itself! 

PUPIL:     On  the  deer. 

TEACHER:     After  that! 

PUPIL:     On  the  hunt! 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

PUPIL:     On  the  horses  and  dogs. 

TEACHER:  The  incident  of  the  hunt,  the  return  of  the  war  boats,  the 
whistle  of  Roderick,  the  death  of  Blanche,  and  so  on.  Do  the  incidents 
that  happen  seem  probable,  Miss  H.f 

PUPIL:     I  do,  for  that  time. 

TEACHER:     Anything  that  seems  at  all  forced? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Did  they  happen  in  a  natural  almost  necessary  way?  anyone 
think  anything  was  forced? 

PUPIL:  I  don't  think  those  Highland  soldiers  were  apt  to  lie  in  the 
bushes,  that  way. 

TEACHER:     What  sort  of  warfare  did  they  have;  anyone  else? 

PUPIL:     . 

PUPIL:  I  think  it  was  kind  of  foolish  the  way  Fitz  James  said  he 
would  fight  the  whole  clan. 

TEACHER:  Does  that  bring  out  anything  about  Fitz  James  that  might 
have  been  put  in  purposely? 

PUPIL:     It  was  just  said  for  effect;  he  didn't  mean  it. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  possibly. 

PUPIL:  Where  Blanche  was  running  around  all  the  time;  I  don't  think 
a  crazy  woman  would  be  apt  to  be  running  around  like  that. 

TEACHER:     What  had  they  done  to  the  women  and  children? 

PUPIL:     Sent  them  to  this  island. 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

PUPIL:     I  think  it  is  improbable  that  she  got  back  her  reason. 

TEACHER:     Isn't  it  possible? 

PUPIL:  I  think  it  is  improbable  that  Fitz  James  swears  to  avenge  her, 
a  stranger. 

TEACHER:     Wait  a  moment,  can  anyone  defend  that? 

PUPIL:     That  was  one  of  the  principles  of  chivalry  at  that  time. 

PUPIL:     Would  he  be  apt  to  do  it  for  a  mad  woman? 

TEACHER:     Would  that  be  an  especial  charge  to  his  chivalry? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

PUPIL:     And  because  of  the  thing  he  knew  had  driven  her  mad. 

PUPIL:  Isn't  it  improbable  that  Fitz  James  should  not  recognize 
Roderick  if  he  was  so  against  him? 

TEACHER:     Wait  one  moment — 

PUPIL:     He  had  born  driven  from  the  court  in  the  time  of  James'  father. 

TEACHER:  Yes;  what  is  the  verdict,  that  the  incidents  are  probable 
or  not? 

PUPIL:     Probable. 

TEACHER:     Who  thinks  they  are? 

PUPIL:     Some  are  and  some  are  not. 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  41 

TEACHER:  We  -will  see;  hold  your  judgment  until  the  end,  and  see. 
How  much  is  description  used  in  the  story,  Mr.  T.?  Is  there  very  much! 

Mr.  T.:     Quite  a  little. 

TEACHER:     For  what  did  it  seem  to  be  put  in? 

PUPIL:  I  think  one  place  the  Canto  starts  very  quietly,  and  then  the 
clan  gathered  in  the  fiercest  preparation,  terrible  oaths,  shows  contrasts. 

TEACHER:  Is  it  put  in  then,  just  as  a  scene,  or  for  some  distinct 

PUPIL:     Distinct  purpose. 

TEACHER:     And  in  this  case  it  was? 

PUPIL  :     Contrast. 

TEACHER:     What  other  descriptions? 

PUPIL  :     Nature. 

TEACHER  :     Very  much  space  taken  up  with  descriptions  of  nature  ? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Have  you  a  pretty  fair  idea  of  the  country? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Better  from  the  poem  than  from  pictures,  I  think.  Why, 
Miss  P.,  is  as  much  space  given  to  description  and  country? 

Miss  P.:  I  think  it  would  be  necessary,  especially  when  warfare  is 
going  on. 

TEACHER:     Kind  of  thing  that  happens  depend  on  country? 

PUPIL  :     Entirely. 

PUPIL:     Scott  was  a  lover  of  nature. 

TEACHER:     For  itself? 

PUPIL:     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Do  you  think  the  descriptions  show  a  familiarity  with  the 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     What  makes  you  think  so? 

PUPIL:     The  names  are  correct. 

TEACHER:     That  is  true. 

PUPIL:  He  has  the  location  of  very  small  matters  that  others  who  are 
not  familiar  would  not  have. 

TEACHER:     Something  more? 

PUPIL:     He  seems  to  know  how  far  it  is  from  one  place  to  another. 

TEACHER:  Geography.  Something  more?  Superstition  used  much  in 
this  story? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Where  and  how,  Miss  W.? 

Miss  W.:  A  great  deal  of  prophecy,  whether  they  should  go  out  to 
battle  was  decided  by  superstitious  means. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  by  superstitious  means. 

PUPIL:     And  what  the  result  of  the  battle  would  be  is  decided  before. 

TEACHER:     And  what  else?      Some  other  little  touches  of  superstition! 

PUPIL:     The  cave. 

TEACHER:     Superstition  comes  in  there;  what  else? 

PUPIL:     I  think  the  cross. 

42      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:     What  about  the  cross,  particularly! 

PUPIL:     Bolt  struck  by  lightning;  sacrifices. 

TEACHER:     Sacrifices  sound  almost  like — !      Modern  times! 

PUPIL  :     Greek. 

TEACHER:     Greek  and  Roman, — back  a  little  farther. 

PUPIL:     Old  Testament. 

TEACHER:     Yes;  where  else! 

PUPIL:     I  think  a  lot  of  superstition  where  the  sword  fell. 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

PUPIL:     Allen's  prophecy. 

TEACHER:  Something  more!  Do  you  remember  Brian's  curse!  So  far 
in  the  story  have  we  had  any  hints  at  all  as  to  the  kind  of  man  who 
wrote  it,  anything  that  gives  you  any  idea  of  Scott  himself,  his  likes  and 

PUPIL:     He  liked  nature  and  animals. 

TEACHER:     What  else! 

PUPIL:     Outdoor  sports, 

TEACHER:     Outdoor  sports;  what  else! 

PUPIL:     Clan  life. 

TEACHER:  Clan  loyalty,  all  right,  what  else!  What  kind  of  man  was 
he!  What  does  he  admire  in  men,  in  women! 

PUPIL  :     Bravery. 

TEACHER:     What  else! 

PUPIL  :     Fairness. 

PUPIL  :     Chivalry. 

TEACHER:     What  else! 

PUPIL  :     Generosity. 

TEACHER:     What  else,  Miss  S.! 

Miss  S.:     Hospitality. 

PUPIL:     Truth,  constancy. 

PUPIL:     I  was  going  to  say  beauty. 

TEACHER:     Yes. 

PUPIL:  Physical  strength;  I  think  bravery  in  women  too,  Ellen  sitting 
alone  in  the  cave. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  practically  alone,  save  for  whom! 

PUPIL:     Allen. 

TEACHER:     Who  is  Allen! 

PUPIL:     The  aged  minstrel. 

TEACHER:     If  Scott  loved  that  sort  of  thing,  what  sort  of  man  is  he! 

PUPIL:     Good  sort  of  man. 

TEACHER:     As  a  whole,  what  sort  of  story,  then,  is  it,  is  it  interesting! 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     What  is  it  filled  with! 

PUPIL:     Action. 

TEACHER:     Does  Scott  love  action! 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Do  you  know  anything  about  his  life! 

PUPIL:     He  was  lame. 

A  Large  Number  of  Questions  43 

TEACHER:  Would  he  have  an  exaggerated  appreciation,  perhaps,  for 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Who  are  his  followers, — what  people  have  written  stories 
full  of  action  after  Scott — can  you  think  of  any? 

PUPIL  :     Cooper. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  why  is  Cooper  particularly  like  Scott? 

PUPIL  :     Scenery. 

TEACHER:     Is  scenery  essential? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     What  else? 

PUPIL  :     Characters. 

TEACHER:     Somewhat  the  same  ideals  and  characters. 

PUPIL:     Civilization, — the  way  they  kept  together. 

TEACHER:     Bather  wild  civilization;  anyone  else  as  a  possible  follower? 

PUPIL  :     Stevenson. 

PUPIL:     Washington  Irving. 

TEACHER:     Washington  Irving? 

PUPILS  :     No. 

PUPIL  :     Henty. 

TEACHER:  Henty?  Well,  perhaps,  yes,  in  some  respects.  Whom  else? 
A  Frenchman  maybe  you  might  know. 

PUPIL:     Dumas? 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

Next  day's  lesson  Fifth  Canto  finished,  and  read  the  Sixth.  I  want  to 
see  if  next  time  you  can  tell  me  what  particular  task  Scott  set  himself 
when  he  wrote  this  story,  etc. 

Measure  the  questions  and  answers  in  these  two  lessons  by 
either  of  the  accepted  standards  of  English  instruction — appre- 
,ciation  and  oral  expression — and  it  is  apparent  that  the  lesson 
with  the  smaller  number  of  questions  has  the  advantage.  In 
the  matter  of  oral  expression  alone,  it  seems  that  the  children 
in  the  first  lesson  were  trying  throughout  to  express  themselves, 
and  sufficient  time  for  that  purpose  was  accorded  them.  In  the 
second  lesson  there  was  a  steady  running  fire  of  questions  which 
the  pupils  merely  punctuated  with  the  briefest  answers,  such 
as :  the  hunt ;  so  real ;  on  the  deer ;  on  the  hunt ;  on  the  horses 
and  dogs;  I  do  for  that  time;  yes;  yes,  possibly;  sent  to  the 
island;  yes;  distinct  purpose;  contrast;  nature;  yes;  yes;  en- 
tirely; yes. 

In  these  two  lessons,  at  least,  I  believe  there  is  a  rather  close 
relation  between  the  number  of  questions  and  the  quality.  This 
relation  might  not  exist,  however,  in  a  comparison  of  other 

44      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

The  science  lesson  with  eighty-six  questions  is  quoted  in 
part  on  page  79;  the  science  lesson  with  one  hundred  and 
twenty-two  questions  on  page  19;  the  history  lesson  with  forty- 
one,  on  page  17;  that  with  sixty-six  on  page  52  and  that  with 
one  hundred  and  forty-two  on  page  60.  Applying  to  these 
groups  the  standards  of  science  and  history  instruction  in  par- 
ticular, or  standards  of  class  instruction  in  particular,  or  stan- 
dards of  class  instruction  generally,  I  believe  we  are  forced  to 
the  conclusion  that  there  is  considerable  room  for  doubt  re- 
garding the  relation  of  the  number  and  the  quality  of  questions ; 
that  the  number  of  questions  is  not  an  absolute  criterion  of  the 
quality ;  that  the  number  is  not  a  full  measure  of  the  efficiency 
of  instruction.  Nevertheless,  the  fact  remains  that  A  LARGE 
NUMBER  OF  QUESTIONS  (barring  modern  language  and  develop- 
mental lessons)  is  A  VALUABLE  INDICATOR,  A  PROMINENT  SYMP- 
TOM, OF  BAD  INSTRUCTION.  While  number  is  not  the  full  meas- 



There  are  some  indications  in  Chapter  II  that  the  lessons  with 
the  smaller  number  of  questions  do  not  show  the  improvement 
in  efficiency  that  it  would  be  fair  to  expect.  I  believe  the  study 
of  the  subject  cannot  be  complete  until  we  have  pushed  the  inves- 
tigation a  little  further  to  determine  if  possible  the  reasons  why 
the  smaller  number  of  questions  does  not  contribute  to  greater 
efficiency  in  teaching. 

In  promoting  this  inquiry  it  seems  expedient  to  consider  only 
the  lessons  in  Group  I  (those  containing  fewer  than  ninety 
questions)  and  to  measure  them  first  of  all  by  the  same  standards 
of  instruction  as  were  applied  in  Chapter  II,  beginning  with  page 
17.  In  some  instances  the  analysis  of  the  stenographic  reports 
will  be  more  minute  in  an  effort  to  trace  the  reasons  for  lack  of 

I.  Applying  the  measure  of  nervous  tension. 

Needless  to  say  the  lessons  in  Group  I  do  not  fall  under  the 
censure  applied  to  those  in  Group  II.  The  degree  of  nervousness 
manifest  in  the  practice  of  asking  from  sixty  to  ninety  questions 
is  not  comparable  with  a  speed  of  from  ninety  to  one  hundred 
and  ninety  questions  in  a  class  period. 

II.  Applying  the  measure  of  pupil  activity. 

It  is  reasonable  to  expect  that  in  lessons  containing  the  smaller 
number  of  questions  there  will  be  better  reactions  by  the  pupils : 
that  if  the  teacher  asks  sixty  instead  of  one  hundred  and  sixty 
questions,  the  answers  will  be  correspondingly  more  complete 
and  the  pupils  will  be  given  time  for  thought  and  for  dignified 
expression.  We  have  every  reason  to  believe  that  pupil  activity 
will  rank  considerably  higher  for  Group  I  than  for  Group  II. 
The  conclusions  are  shown  below : 


46      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 



Number  of 




Number  of 











3.  . 




























.    .  .  .           70 

















Average 37$  Average 35| 

Estimated  in  percentages  we  find  the  average  amount  of  pupil 
activity  reflected  by  the  lessons  of  Group  I  to  be  37*4  per  cent ; 
the  average  of  Group  II,  35^3  per  cent:  the  difference  is  scarcely 
appreciable.  From  this  it  is  evident  that  even  with  the  smaller 
number  of  questions,  the  teachers  still  manage  somehow  to  do 
a  very  large  share  of  the  talking  during  the  hour.  This  fact 
is  a  severe  reflection  upon  the  nature  of  the  teacher's  questions, 
for  if  he  cannot  stimulate  some  degree  of  active  participation 
in  the  work  of  the  hour  by  prodding  his  pupils  seventy-five 
times,  he  may  well  look  to  the  content  and  the  organization  of 
his  lesson,  and  to  the  nature  and  form  of  his  questions.  There 
is  something  wrong — something  that  he  alone  can  remedy.  Fur- 
thermore, it  must  be  remembered  that  37  per  cent  of  pupil  activity 
means  activity  of  the  pupils  collectively — anywhere  from  twenty 
to  fifty  pupils — the  relative  amount  per  pupil  being  infinitesimal. 

III.  Applying  the  measure  of  over-emphasis  upon  memory 

Selecting  from  preceding  tables  a  new  grouping  to  show  the 
estimated  number  of  questions  that  draw  for  their  answers 
directly  upon  memory  of  a  text-book  lesson  prepared  at  home, 
we  have  a  condition  that  is  reflected  in  Table  VI. 

Table  VI  offers  indication  of  several  truths  regarding  class- 
room practices.  In  the  first  place,  in  the  history  and  English 
lessons  there  are  more  memory  questions  indicated  in  Group  I 
than  in  Group  II.  There  is,  then,  no  indication  that  teachers, 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions 


who  by  chance  or  by  custom  ask  fewer  than  the  average  number 
of  questions,  are  giving  any  serious  consideration  to  processes 
of  intellectual  development.  Lesson  number  two  in  Group  I 
offers  illustration  in  point.  When  from  a  total  of  sixty-six  ques- 





1    History  

rroup  I 
Total     Number 
umber         of 
of        memory 
ques-        ques- 
tions       tions 
41             29 
66            60 
69            39 
70             26 
73            33 
74             61 
86            58 
70      Develop- 



1.  History  

roup  II 
Total     Number 
lumber         of 
of        memory 
ques-        ques- 
tions      tions 
90            75 
94             74 
125             87 
142           103 
94             26 
129             65 
122             92 
105             89 
165      Develop- 

123      Develop- 
196           196 

2.        " 

2.       "       

3.  English  
4.        <  '         

3.       " 

4.        "       

5.        "         

5.  English    

6.       lt 

6.        "       

7    Science              • 

7.  Science    

8.  Mathematics  .. 

8    Latin    .       .    . 

9.  Mathematics  . 

10.  Modern 
Language   .  . 

11.          " 
12.          " 

tions  there  are  sixty  based  directly  upon  repetition  of  the  text- 
book, it  is  a  matter  of  rather  fine  discrimination  to  determine 
what  may  be  the  real  values  of  such  a  piece  of  work.  This 
lesson  passes  the  first  test,  of  comparatively  few  questions  (66)  ; 
although  it  does  not  rank  especially  high,  it  does  measure  above 
the  average  in  the  matter  of  pupil  activity  (42  per  cent)  ;  now 
we  discover  that  it  falls  irretrievably  under  the  third  test  when 
it  confesses  that  the  42  per  cent  of  pupil  activity  reflects  activity 
in  repeating  words  of  the  text  lesson. 

Lesson  number  six  in  Group  I  measures  well  in  the  first  test 
(only  74  questions)  and  also  in  the  second  text  with  pupil  activity 
comparatively  high  (56  per  cent).  Then  when  we  read  in 
Table  VI  that  of  the  entire  seventy-four  questions,  sixty-one  are 
"  on  the  book,"  we  readily  see  that  such  activity,  while  better 
than  no  active  participation  by  the  pupils,  is  a  long  way  removed 
from  the  ideal  in  practice.  The  teacher's  educational  aims,  his 
own  powers  of  organization,  and  his  methods  all  stand  revealed. 

48      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

Lesson  number  three  in  Group  I  gives  promise  of  better  things : 
Relatively  small  number  of  questions  (69)  ;  pupil  activity  (40  per 
cent);  very  few  memory  questions  (39),  the  remaining  thirty 
questions  belonging  to  the  class  of  questions  that  stimulate  indi- 
vidual reflection.  Lesson  number  five  in  Group  I  also  stands 
well,  with  pupil  activity  the  highest  in  the  whole  series  and 
the  memory  work  reduced  to  thirty-three  questions.  In  these 
two  lessons  we  may  look  for  something  in  the  way  of  really 
good  questions.  They  will  be  referred  to  somewhat  later. 

It  is  also  apparent  from  Table  VI  that  the  figures  have  a 
certain  pertinent  relation  to  subject  matter.  There  seems  to  be 
higher  speed  in'  'questioning  in  the  history  lessons  than  in  the 
English,  and  there  is  more  memory  work  done  in  history  than 
in  English.  In  Group  I,  the  percentage  of  memory  questions  in 
history  is  83  per  cent,  English  55  per  cent;  Group  II,  history 
75  per  cent,  English  40  per  cent.  These  deductions  have  been 
substantiated  in  the  larger  number  of  observations  made  but  not 
stenographically  reported.  No  other  subject  in  the  curriculum 
seems  to  adhere  to  the  text-book  so  persistently  for  content,  or- 
ganization, and  method,  as  history:  no  other  subject  confines 
itself  so  steadfastly  to  a  struggle  with  facts.  Since  history 
instruction  seems  to  embody  most  of  the  evils  of  extreme  text- 
book work  I  will  make  use  of  the  history  reports  for  quotations 
and  for  further  application  of  the  test  of  over-emphasis  upon 
memory  work.  Portions  of  three  history  lessons  are  quoted 
below.  The  first  is  a  seventh  grade  lesson,  which  began  with 
a  review  of  some  facts  regarding  the  origin  of  the  Constitutional 
Government  of  the  United  States.  The  advance  lesson — the 
portion  quoted — concerned  the  acts  of  the  President  and  Congress 
in  sending  supplies  to  the  earthquake  survivors  in  Sicily. 

TEACHER:  Just  how  did  Congress  go  to  worlc  to  approve  what  the  Presi- 
dent did? 

PUPIL:     They  wrote  a  document — 

TEACHER:     What  do  they  call  that  document? 

PUPIL:     A  bill. 

TEACHER:     Irving? 

IRVING:  They  wrote  down  that  a  certain  amount  of  money  was  to  be 
sent  to  the  sufferers  in  Sicily,  and  then  the  President — 

TEACHER:  Now  wait  a  moment;  let  us  suppose — how  many  parts  are 
there  in  Congress? 

PUPIL:     Two. 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  49 

TEACHER:     What  are  they? 

PUPIL:     House  of  Eepresentatives  and  the  Senate. 

TEACHER:  Now,  you  say  that  they  had  a  bill,  we  will  say  in  the  House. 
Do  you  know  how  much  they  asked  for? 

PUPIL  :     Two-thirds. 

TEACHER:     How  much  money? 

PUPIL:     $300,000. 

PUPIL  :     $500,000. 

TEACHER:  Well,  it  was  $800,000  to  ~be  correct;  in  the  House  they  wrote 
that  in  the  Mil,  to  give  it  to  the  Italian  sufferers.  What  was  done  after 
they  had  read  that? 

PUPIL:  There  was  a  vote  in  the  House,  and  there  it  came  out  that 
two-thirds  were  for  it;  everyone  signed  his  name,  and  it  went  to  the 
Senate,  and  if  there  were  two-thirds  in  the  Senate  it  became  a  law. 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

PUPIL:  Miss  A.  what  would  happen  if  the  House  of  Representatives 
got  two-thirds  for  it,  and  the  Senate  two-thirds  against  it,  and  the 
President — 

TEACHER:  It  has  to  go  before  both  houses;  when  the  House  wants  to 
get  something  done  in  the  Senate,  and  the  Senate  is  against  it,  they 
have  to  talk  to  them  and  try  to  persuade  them.  Where  did  you  find  two- 

PUPIL:     I  didn't  find  that  at  all,  Arthur  said  it. 

TEACHER:     Where  did  you  find  that,  Arthur? 

ARTHUR:     It  said  in  the  Constitution  two-thirds  had  to  vote. 

TEACHER:     Look  that  up  again. 

PUPIL:     Two-thirds  of  all  persons  present. 

TEACHER:  That  was  the  way  it  should  have  been.  The  fact  was  tliat 
the  President  sent  his  message  to  Congress  Monday  morning.  Why  did  he 
wait  until  Monday? 

PUPIL:     Congress  was  not  back  yet,  just  got  back  Monday. 

TEACHER:  He  asked  Congress  to  pass  this  law,  and  they  were  undecided 
how  much  they  wanted  to  give,  so  it  was  felt  they  ought  to  wait,  and  the 
next  day  Congress  signed  the  bill  sent  to  them.  We  have  been  talking 
about  Congress,  what  is  Congress  made  up  of? 

PUPIL:     The  House  of  Eepresentatives  and  the  Senate. 

TEACHER:     Yes;  and  the  name  of  the  men  who  are  in  the  Senate? 

PUPIL  :     Senators. 

TEACHER:     What  are  the  men  in  the  House  called? 

PUPIL  :     Eepresentatives. 

TEACHER:     What  is  another  word  you  hear  them  called? 

PUPIL:     Eepresentatives  to  Congress. 

TEACHER:  They  w^rfl  called  Congressmen;  how  many  have  heard  that 


TEACHER:     Arthur,  did  you  find  that  clause  in  the  book? 

ARTHUR  (reading):  "  Every  bill  which  shall  have  passed  the  House 
of  Eepresentatives  and  the  Senate,  shall,  before  it  becomes  a  law,  be 

50      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

presented  to  the  President  of  the  United  States;  if  he  approve  he  shall 
sign  it,  but  if  not  he  shall  return  it,  with  his  objections,  to  the  House  in 
which  it  shall  have  originated. " 

TEACHER:     Does  it  say  that  it  has  to  pass  two-thirds? 

ARTHUR  :     I  was  just  coming  to  it,  if  it  goes  back  it  has  to  be  two-thirds. 

TEACHER:  The  first  time  it  has  to  be  a  majority  vote.  How  many 
found  out  how  many  men  there  are  from  New  York  State  in  this  Congress? 

PUPIL:     In  the  House  of  Eepresentatives,  New  York  can  send  six. 


TEACHER:     There  seems  to  be  a  disagreement.     John? 

PUPIL:  New  York  can  send  two  to  the  Senate  and  two  to  the  House 
of  Representatives. 


TEACHER:     Still  seems  to  be  a  disagreement. 

PUPIL:  In  the  House  of  Representatives  New  York  six,  and  Rhode 
Island  two. 


TEACHER:     Where  do  you  find  that? 

PUPIL:     That  was  in  1789. 

TEACHER:     It  isn't  the  same  now? 

PUPIL  :     No. 

TEACHER  :     Irving  ? 

IRVING:  New  York  thirty-seven  to  the  House  of  Representatives  and 
two  to  the  Senate. 

TEACHER:     You  said  in  1789  they  sent  to  the  Senate? 

PUPIL:     Six  from  New  York  and  one  from  Rhode  Island. 

TEACHER:     Listen.     To  the  Senate  in  1789  New  York  sent  how  many? 

PUPIL  :     Two. 

TEACHER:     And  Ehode  Island? 

PUPIL  :     One. 


TEACHER:     To  the  Senate? 

PUPIL:     Two  from  New  York. 

TEACHER:     In  1909  how  many  does  New  York  send  to  the  Senate  f 

PUPIL  :     Thirty-seven. 

TEACHER:     To  the  Senate,  where  did  you  find  your  facts? 

PUPIL:     Irving  said  it. 

TEACHER:     Irving,  what  did  you  say? 

IRVING:     I  said  New  York  two  to  the  Senate. 

TEACHER:     And  Rhode  Island  how  many  to  the  Senate? 

PUPIL:     Two. 

TEACHER:  That  was  away  back  in  1789;  in  1901  how  many  has  New 
York  in  the  Senate? 

PUPIL:     Two. 

TEACHER:     And  Rhode  Island? 

PUPIL  :     Two. 

TEACHER:     Then  that  hasn't  changed? 

PUPIL:     In  the  Constitution  it  said  only  two. 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  51 

TEACHER:     "Look  that  up  in  the  Constitution  after  class. 

PUPIL:  To  the  House  of  Kepresentatives  they  sent  as  many  as  counted 
on  the  population,  I  think  one  man  to  every  30,000. 

TEACHER:  Now  we  will  talk  about  the  Souse.  What  did  you  -find, 

CLAUDE:     Any  city  can  send — 

TEACHER:     Answer  my  question.     How  many  in  New  York? 

CLAUDE  :     Six — thirty-seven. 

TEACHER:     Thirty-seven  in  the  House.     How  many  in  Rhode  Island? 

PUPIL:     Three,  I  think. 

TEACHER:     Margaret? 

PUPIL:     Two. 

TEACHER:     What  is  this  about  six,  Margaret? 

MARGARET:     When  it  was — many  years  ago — 

TEACHER:     1  don't  hear. 

MARGARET:     A  great  many  years  ago  they  used  to  only  send  six. 

TEACHER:  A  great  many  years  ago  they  sent  six;  where  did  you  get 

MARGARET:     Here  in  the  Constitution. 

TEACHER:     And  what  does  tliat  mean? 

MARGARET:     Whenever  they  grew  bigger — 

TEACHER:     Answer  this  question. 

PUPIL:     1789. 

TEACHER:  In  1789  they  could  send  six.  My  question  yesterday  was, 
"  In  1909  how  many  can  you  have  in  New  York?  " 

PUPIL:     I  looked  and  I  couldn't  find  it. 

TEACHER:     You  found  it  where,  Irving? 

PUPIL:     I  found  it  in  the  almanac. 

TEACHER:     I  said  that  you  could  find  this  question  in  two  places. 

PUPIL:  I  found  it  in  an  almanac  which  said  for  the  House  of  Repre- 
sentatives— it  had  six  men  down — it  said  1907 — 

TEACHER:  Bring  that  to  me,  I  want  to  see  it.  Carlton,  you  said  some- 
thing about  195,000  men,  what  was  it? 

CARLTON:     Every  state  sent  one  man  to  every  30,000. 

TEACHER:     Where  did  you  -find  that? 

CARLTON:     In  the  Constitution. 

TEACHER:  That  is,  they  were  going  to  divide  the  United  States  into 
districts  with  30,000  in  each  one. 

PUPIL:  No,  30,000  of  the  population  in  each  state,  they  could  send 
one  man. 

TEACHER:     When? 

PUPIL:     In  1789. 

TEACHER:     Then? 

PUPIL:     I  thought  it  was  300,000. 

TEACHER:     You  look  that  up. 

PUPIL:     Why  did  they  change  and  send  37  to  the  House? 

52      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:  I  was  wondering  why  someone  didn't  ask  that.  They  started 
with  six  and  ended  with  thirty-seven. 

PUPIL:  The  population  has  increased  and  the  number  of  men  would 
increase,  it  would  get  up  to  thirty-seven. 

TEACHER:  Let  me  see,  in  New  York  State  there  are  about  7,000,000 
people;  according  to  the  Constitution  at  first  we  were  going  to  have  one 
man  for  every  30,000;  how  many  in  New  York? 

PUPIL:     2,000. 

TEACHER:  And  other  states  1,000.  Why  wouldn't  that  be  a  good  thing, 
to  have  200  from  this  state  and  100  from  another— 

PUPIL:     They  would  get — 

TEACHER:     How  often  do  they  take  a  new  census? 

PUPIL:     Every  ten  years. 

TEACHER:     What  year  do  you  happen  to  know? 

PUPIL  :     1900,  and  the  next  year  1910,  and  1920, — every  ten  years. 

TEACHER:  And  then  they  keep  enlarging  it,  until  for  every  195,000 
they  have  a  representative.  Can  you  say  about  how  many  representatives 
we  have  in  New  York  state?  How  great  a  population  have  we? 

PUPIL  :     4,000,000. 

TEACHER:  Take  these  down  and  tell  me  to-morrow  how  many  we  have 
for  New  York  State  alone. 

PUPIL:     Why  could  Rhode  Island  only  send  two  representatives! 

TEACHER:     Answer  that,  Herbert. 

HERBERT:     Because  the  population  has  not  increased  enough. 

TEACHER:  So  they  can  have  only  about  two  representatives.  I  am 
going  to  ask  this  question  for  you  to  think  over  and  tell  me  to-morrow: 
You  said  that  no  matter  how  large  a  state  was,  whether  large  or  small, 
whether  it  had  one  thousand  or  millions  in  it,  each  state  could  have  two 
men  in  the  Senate,  but  it  is  according  to  the  population  in  the  House. 
Which  do  you  think  is  the  fairest,  the  fairer  way,  if  you  could  have  just 
one?  To-morrow  we  have  no  lesson  to  prepare  for  history,  I  will  ask  you 
just  to  think  over  this  question. 

The  next  quotation  is  from  the  lesson  of  a  second-year  high 
school  class  in  first-year  history.  In  the  preceding  two-thirds  of 
the  lesson  there  had  been  questions  upon  Themistocles,  Aristides, 
the  formation  of  the  Delian  League,  and  some  comparison  of 
Delian  and  Peloponnesian  Leagues.  Here  they  begin  considera- 
tion of  Cimon's  place  in  history. 

TEACHER:     Who  brought  about  the  changes? 

PUPIL  :     Cimon. 

TEACHER:     What  did  he  do? 

PUPIL:  After  awhile  he  thought  they  had  too  much  freedom  because 
some  of  those  islands,  like  Naxos,  wanted  to  be  free;  they  didn't  want 
to  be  under  this  League  and  he  thought  the  best  thing  to  do  was  to 
make  them  pay  a  tribute,  and  not  have  so  much  to  say  in  the  government, 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  53 

and  he  reduced  them  too,  just  as  if  Athens  were  the  king  and  they  were 
all  the  subjects. 

TEACHER  :     Exactly. 

PUPIL:  Cimon  was  more  of  an  aristocrat;  when  he  went  to  walk  in 
the  streets  he  always  had  two  servants  with  him,  and  they  always  had  a 
lot  of  money  to  give  to  the  poor  people — 

TEACHER:  That  looked  as  if  he  were  fond  of  the  people,  didn't  it? 
What  were  Cimon' s  chief  characteristics?  I  thiiik  if  you  will  look  it  over 
you  will  find  that  he  was—? 

PUPIL:     He  was  very  patriotic. 

TEACHER:  Not  only  patriotic,  but  Cimon  was  a  perfectly  splendid 
soldier;  who  was  his  father? 

PUPIL  :     Miltiades. 

TEACHER:  And  he  had  inherited  his  father's  interests,  he  had  the  ideas 
of  discipline  which  a  splendid  general  will  have, — that  all  must  obey.  His 
ideas  were  liberal  and  generous  enough,  but  when  he  considered  Naxos* 
disobedience, — "  If  you  do  not  obey,  you  must  be  punished."  He  thor- 
oughly sympathised  with  Sparta  in  some  of  her  training.  The  Spartans 
had  a  great  partiality  for  Cimon.  After  Aristides'  death— and  we  do  not 
"know  just  how  he  died — Cimon  had  command  of  this  League,  and  whaft 
did  you  -find  to  be  the  characteristics  of  this  party,— your  League  is  going 
to  be  what—? 

PUPIL  :     General. 

TEACHER:     And  come  out  like—? 

PUPIL:     An  empire. 

TEACHER:  In  fact,  we  have  been  seeing  how  it  was  that  Themistocles 
gave  the  basis  for  Athens'  power,  how  Athens  developed  it  gradually,  then 
Cimon  comes  and  changes  the  organisation.  Let  us  go  back  to  Cimon. 
What  was  Cimon 's  real  aim  when  he  first  started  it? 

EAYMOND:     Cimon,  when  he  started  out,  was  first  of  all— 

TEACHER:     What  work  is  he  going  to  complete? 

PUPIL  :     The  work  of — 

TEACHER:     Let  us  look  at  our  map— 

PUPIL:     — the  work  of  reorganizing  the  Aegean  cities. 

TEACHER:     How  far  does  he  accomplish  it? 

PUPIL:  He  does  it,  then  went  down  to  the  southern  part  of  the  Medi- 
terranean. (Goes  to  map.) 

TEACHER:  He  goes  up  here  (indicating),  starts  out  and  makes  up  his 
mind  he  is  going  to  complete  Aristides'  work,  goes  up  toward  Thrace,  and 
gets  those  cities  under  control;  he  has  made  up  his  mind  that  everybody 
must  join  the  League,  and  that  he  would  go  in  search  of  the  Persian  fleet, 
and  see  what  was  left,  and  what  happened,  Edward? 

EDWARD:     He  defeated  them  in  a  battle  near  the  River  Eurymedon. 

TEACHER:     Can  you  point  that  out? 

PUPIL:     (Goes  to  map.) 

TEACHER:     What  are  you  going  to  call  that  river? 

PUPIL  :     Euri — 

54      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:     Can  you  write  it? 

PUPIL:      (writes,  E-r — 

TEACHER:     Anyone  spell  it  all? 

(writes)  E-u-r-y-m-e-d-o-n. 

TEACHER:     What  sort  of  a  battle  was  that? 

PUPIL:     Entirely  naval, — it  didn't  tell  us  in  the  book — 

TEACHER:     Would  you  like  to  hear  more  about  it? 

PUPIL:     I  read  all  about  it. 

TEACHER:  //  you  have,  suppose  you  tell  us;  that  will  save  a  great  deal 
of  time. 

PUPIL:  In  thia  battle  Cimon  and  his  people  had  a  much  smaller  naval 
power  than  the  Persians,  and  didn't  think  they  could  win,  but  came  upon 
the  Persians  unexpectedly  and  trampled  over  them,  and  lots  of  Persians 
were  killed,  and  hardly  any  of  the  lonians,  and  they  conquered  them, 
and  right  after  this  battle  Persian  troops  were  on  shore,  and  some  of 
them  would  have  liked  very  much  to  go  fight  them,  but  his  soldiers  were 
all  tired,  and  it  was  a  very  hard  fight  with  Persia  because  Persia  was  a 
large  force,  but  the  soldiers  were  so  anxious  to  kill  as  many  of  the  Per- 
sians as  they  could,  he  let  them  go,  and  they  went  on  and  Persia  fought 
well,  and  the  lonians  won,  but  lots  of  the  great  soldiers  of  Athens  were 
killed  in  this  war,  and  there  were  more  Athenians  killed  in  that  war  than 
in  any  other,  and  also  a  great  number  of  Persians  killed.  Cimon,  after 
having  that  victory,  had  freed  cities  around  there,  and  the  Persians  thought 
it  was  such  a  great  loss — he  made  the  Persians  promise  not  to  come  within 
a  certain  point  of  the  coast  of  Greece, — 

TEACHER:  You  wouldn't  know  that  island  mentioned  there,  you  haven't 
had  it,— they  would  stay  out  of  the  Aegean  sea. 

PUPIL:     They  said  the  Persians  didn't  even  come  near  that  island. 

TEACHER:     That  was  a  complete  victory? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Do  you  Tcnow  how  the  Athenians  commemorated  that  victory? 
The  way  they  commemorated  their  victories? 

PUPIL:     Didn't  they  put  up  statues  on  the  tops  of  buildings? 

PUPIL:     By  the  Olympian  games. 

TEACHER:  What  they  did  was  to  build  a  very  beautiful  temple  which 
you  will  Tcnow  more  about  next  week, — and  they  put  the  Temple  of  the 
Winged  Victory  right  on  that  corner.  You  know  a  good  many  of  the 
statues  do  you?  the  one  with  the  wings?  Victory,  when  she  received  the 
word,  would  fly  home  to  tell  the  good  news.  Now  it  wouldn't  be  necessary 
for  Victory  to  have  wings  any  longer,  they  had  completed  their  conquests, 
and  they  considered  that  it  was  to  be  no  longer  necessary  for  Victory  to 

have  wings,  and  that  little  temple  of  the was  the  one  of 

the  Wingless  Victory. 

Cimon  did  a  great  many  other  things  after  that.  We  shall  not  have 
time  now  to  talk  of  that.  I  want  you  in  your  advance  work  to  try  and 
keep  this  in  mind— What  it  was  that  Themistocles  did  toward  the  building 
vp  of  the  Athenian  greatness,  what  it  was  that  Aristidcs  did.  And  I  have 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  55 

a  question  for  next  time:  Do  you  think  Themistocles  could  have  formed 
the  Delian  League;  what  Cimon  did,  and  how  he  obtained  a  strong  hold 
and  strong  command,  and  then  give  your  reasons  for  the  downfall  of 
Cimon,— What  was  it,  by  the  way? 

PUPIL:     Help  to  Sparta. 

TEACHER:     And  then  who  was  it  came  into  command? 

PUPIL  :     Pericles. 

TEACHER:     There  was  one  man  in  between — 

PUPIL  :     Por — 

TEACHER  :     Ephialtes. 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  And  Ephialtes  was  assassinated,  and  then  Pericles  came  into 
power.  Now,  in  your  advance  lesson,  I  want  you  to  review  what  each  man 
did  toward  the  rebuilding  of  Athens'  power,  and  work  in  your  text-book 
pages  217-223.  I  want  you  to  do  some  careful  map-work,  and  be  able  to 
tell  me  about  the  different  districts  that  belong  to  Athens,  how  great  her 
power  was. 

This  third  selection  is  from  a  second-year  high  school  lesson 
in  second-year  history.  The  lesson  had  followed  closely  the 
struggles  of  the  Carolingians  for  supremacy  in  Western  Europe. 
I  quote  the  portion  treating  of  the  coming  of  the  Mohammedans. 

TEACHER:  Who  were  they  (the  Mohammedans);  what  do  you  know 
about  them? 

PUPIL:  They  were  a  band  founded  by  Mohammed,  who  was  the  man 
from  Mecca  farther  in  the  East;  and  he  founded  a  new  religion  called 
the  Mohammedan  religion;  and  he  said  it  was  glory  to  die  in  battle  and 
thought  that  anyone  who  died  by  the  sword  would  be  greater  than  any- 
one else  and  would  probably  go  to  the  heaven  that  they  imagined.  The 
Mohammedans  were  very  zealous  and  they  conquered  a  great  deal  of  the 
land  around  the  Mediterranean  Sea  and  on  the  Eastern  border  of  the 
Mediterranean;  and  they  tried  to  conquer  the  Roman  Empire  in  the  west. 

TEACHER:     Would  you  say  "  Roman  "? 

PUPIL:     It  was  more  a  German  Empire. 

TEACHER:  Did  they  really  try  to  conquer  Rome;  did  they  approach 
the  city? 

PUPIL:  No.  When  they  invaded  the  Western  World,  the  western  part 
of  the  Eoman  Empire,  it  was  thought  at  the  time  that  they  would  prob- 
ably conquer  it,  but  Charles  Martel  with  his  soldiers,  the  German  soldiers, 
came  and  defeated  them. 

TEACHER:     Defeated  whom? 

PUPIL:     The  Mohammedans. 

TEACHER:     Did  they  defeat  Mohammed? 

PUPIL:     No,  because  he  was  not  in  the  battle. 

TEACHER:     Where  was  he? 

PUPIL:     He  was  dead. 

56      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instmction 

TEACHER:  Mohammed  has  passed  away  but  his  followers  are  still  con- 
quering in  his  name. 

PUPIL:  After  that  the  Mohammedans  did  not  have  as  much  power  as 
before.  They  tried  to  invade  other  countries. 

TEACHER:     Does  any  girl  know  anything  about  this  man  Mohammed? 

PUPIL:     He  was  an  Arabian;  he  was  born  at  Mecca. 

TEACHER:  Come  and  find  Mecca  on  the  map.  (Pupil  indicated.)  Yes; 
down  there  on  the  west  coast  of  Arabia— a  little  lower  down  than  you 
pointed.  An  Arabian  who  became  possessed  with  the  idea  of  founding  a 
new  religiont  a  merchant  himself,  the  husband  of  a  woman  who  was  inter- 
ested in  merchandise  and  in  caravans;  and  he  traveled  far  and  near  as 
a  merchant  would,  up  and  down  the  coast  of  the  Mediterranean  perliaps 
and  the  Bed  Sea.  And  there  he  became  very  much  impressed  with  the 
idea  of  one  God.  Perhaps  he  learned  it  from  the  Jews,  because  the  Arabians 
did  not  really  believe  in  one  God.  Their  religion  was  a  polytheistic  system, 
attempting  to  explain  some  of  the  mysteries  of  Nature.  But  in  some  way 
he  became  impressed  with  the  idea  of  one  God,  the  same  as  the  Jews  under- 
stood when  they  said  Jehovah.  And  he  became  so  impressed  with  that, 
that  he  began,  to  teach  that  idea  to  his  family.  Perhaps  his  wife  was  his 
first  convert.  We  are  not  quite  sure.  But  anyway  in  the  course  of  time 
he  had  a  few  followers;  and  after  his  death  many  people  -flocked  to  this, 
belief  and  became  convinced  that  there  was  some  truth  in  it  at  least.  Then 
they  soon  came  to  conquer  in  the  name  of  what? 

PUPIL:     In  the  name  of  Mohammed. 

TEACHER:  In  the  name  of  his  teachings:  in  the  name  of  their  religion. 
Probably  love  of  plunder  had  something  to  do  with  it  and  the  love  of 
gain;  but  that  was  at  the  base  of  it  all  the  time— conquering  in  the  name 
of  this  new  religion  called  Mohammedanism,  they  soon  entered  most  of  the 
cities  along  the  northern  coast  of  Africa,  and  made  their  way  into  the 
Strait  of  Gibraltar.  This  takes  me  five  minutes  to  tell.  How  long  do  you 
think  it  took  them  to  do  this? 

PUPIL:     A  century  or  two. 

TEACHER:  We  pass  quickly  over  these  periods.  You  girls  might  get 
confused  and  think  this  happened  in  a  few  years.  Mohammed  was  dead 
a  long  time  before  they  attempted  to  cross  into  Europe.  Now  where  did 
they  attempt  to  cross  into  Europe? 

PUPIL:     The  Strait  of  Gibraltar. 

TEACHER:  What  people  would  they  have  to  conquer  in  Southern  Spain 
before  they  could  go  very  far? 

PUPIL:     The  Visigoths. 

TEACHER  :  You  remember  some  days  ago  we  talked  about  the  Visigothio 
State,  the  first  German  state  to  be  carved  out  of  these  chaotic  states. 
Later  this  German  state  was  attacked  on  the  South  by  whom? 

PUPIL:     By  the  Saracens. 

TEACHER:  We  have  come  to  them  at  last;  these  followers  of  Mohammed. 
They  had  already  been  attacked  on  the  North  by  whom? 

PUPIL:     The  Franks. 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  57 

TEACHER:  The  Visigothic  State  going  to  pieces,  as  it  were,  under  the 
attacks  of  the  Franks  from  the  North  and  the  Saracens  from  the  South. 
They  slowly  pushed  their  way,  these  Saracens,  up  through  Spain  into 
France,  threatening  Christendom.  If  they  could  spread  their  religion  over 
Europe  what  other  religion  must  give  place  to  it? 

PUPIL  :     Christianity. 

TEACHER:  There  must  have  been  great  concern  among  the  Christians 
when  they  realised  what  was  coming,  what  the  dangers  were.  Who  was 
strong  enough  to  turn  them  off. 

PUPIL:     Charles  Martel. 

TEACHER  :  The  Frankish  soldiers  you  might  say.  Where  was  that  great 
and  decisive  battle  fought  when  he  succeeded  in  turning  back  the  Moham- 
medans and  probably  saving  Europe? 

PUPIL  :     Poitiers. 

TEACHER:  Sometimes  called  the  Battle  of  Tours.  Where  is  it?  (Pupil 
indicates  on  map.)  You  might  say  Southern  France  near  the  center.  Can 
you  tell  me  why  we  look  upon  the  battle  of  Poitiers  as  one  of  the  great 
decisive  battles  of  the  world,  why  we  should  remember  it? 

PUPIL:  At  the  battle  of  Poitiers  Charles  Martel  defeated  the  Sara- 
cens, the  Mohammedans;  and  only  for  his  defeat  of  them  the  religion 
of  the  Germans  would  have  been  changed  from  Christian  to  Mohammedan 
because  they  were  very  strong,  and  they  would  have  forced  their  religion 
upon  the  Eomans  and  the  Christians,  but  since  Charles  Martel  defeated 
them  Christianity  was  spared  and  the  people  remained  just  the  way  they 
had  been  before. 

TEACHER:  That  is  pretty  strong.  People  never  remain  just  as  they  had 
been  before.  Christianity  was  saved  and  probably  we  may  say  Europe 
was  saved  from  Mohammedanism.  Now,  was  that  something  to  be  desired, 
that  Europe  should  be  saved  from  Mohammedanism? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Why  do  you  say  that?  Mohammed  taught  the  belief  in  one 
God;  he  taught  many  good  things.  By  the  way,  what  was  the  Bible  called 
by  the  Mohammedans? 

PUPIL:     The  Koran. 

TEACHER:  It  is  full  of  fine  teachings,  many  of  them  as  fine  as  you 
can  find  in  the  Bible.  Why  do  we  say  it  was  a  good  thing  for  the  world? 

PUPIL:     The  greater  part  of  them  were  plunderers  and  ravaged. 

TEACHER:     So  did  the  Germans.    Go  on  with  your  answer,  Miss  A. 

PUPIL:  They  thought  it  was  a  glory  to  be  killed,  it  was  considered 
good  to  be  killed  in  battle  and  this  was  carried  to  such  an  extent  that  it 
became  cruel — 

TEACHER:  Do  you  think  the  Germans  were  very  mild  or  gentle?  Why 
do  we  think  this  battle  of  Poitiers  was  such  a  great  benefit;  why  was  the 
saving  of  Christianity  to  the  world  better  than  if  it  had  been  converted  to 
Mohammedanism  ? 

PUPIL:  Christianity  teaches  that  no  blood  should  be  shed;  but  Mo- 
hammed taught  that  it  is  well  that  you  should  die  by  the  sword  in  battle. 

58      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TIACHER:  One  of  the  ideals  of  Christianity  was  finer  than  the  ideals 
of  the  Mohammedans.  In  this  respect  that  might  be.  We  are  getting  at 
it,  I  think.  Miss  F.,  another  reason. 

Miss  F. :  The  Mohammedans  were  not  as  civilized  as  the  Christians 

TEACHER:  7  do  not  know  about  that.  If  you  look  into  them,  they  had 
better  schools  than  the  Christians  had  at  that  time.  It  is  said  there 
were  better  schools  among  the  Mohammedans,— science  was  more  advanced 
among  the  Mohammedans.  What  do  you  say? 

PUPIL:  We  can  take  those  countries  to-day,  and  we  can  see  they  are  not 
nearly  as  civilized  as  we  are;  and  if  they  had  substituted  their  religion, 
likely  Europe  would  be  just  the  same. 

TEACHER:     Where  do  we  find  those  people  to-day? 

PUPIL  :     Arabia. 

TEACHER:  Their  civilization  to-day  we  think  is  far  inferior  to  ours. 
Now  when  you  compare  the  civilization  that  has  developed  under  the  teach- 
ings of  Mohammed  with  the  civilization  that  has  developed  under  the  teach- 
ings of  Christianity,  which  do  we  think  is  very  much  better? 

CLASS  :     Christianity. 

TEACHER:  When  the  two  are  measured  side  by  side  we  feel  that  the 
ideals  of  the  Christians  were  finer  than  the  ideals  taught  by  the  Mohamme- 
dans; and  the  two  civilizations  of  to-day  are  the  very  best  proof  that  we 
have.  I  think  that  is  the  way  to  get  at  that.  Who  was  the  greatest  of 
all  the  Carolingians? 

PUPIL:     Charles  the  Great. 

TEACHER:     Describe  him. 

In  these  selections  there  is  representative  work  in  history 
instruction.  That  the  lessons  differ  materially  as  we  apply  to 
them  different  standards  is  apparent  in  a  casual  reading,  but  they 
are  typical  of  the  kind  of  history  recitation  that  may  be  observed 
in  thousands  of  class  rooms.  Such  text-book  work  is  paralleled 
in  other  subjects  in  which  the  book  is  rigidly  followed,  but  in 
most  other  subjects  there  are  some  extenuating  circumstances, 
such  as  an  occasional  laboratory  period  or  some  incidental  black- 
board work.  In  history  the  evils  of  book  work,  hence  verbal 
memory  work,  seem  most  pronounced.  There  is  very  little 
reflection  called  for  in  the  questions  quoted  in  the  three  lessons, 
and  whether  the  lesson  reflects  many  questions  or  few,  their 
nature  is  invariable — a  memory  question  of  a  previously  pre- 
pared lesson.  In  connection  with  the  study  of  history  it  is 
interesting  to  read  the  aim  for  the  teaching  of  history  as  found 
in  the  Report  of  the  Committee  of  Seven.  This  report  sets  the 
following  standards  for  history  instruction :  it  trains  for  citizen- 
ship;  it  cultivates  judgment;  "  it  is  a  great  instrument  for  devel- 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  59 

oping  in  the  pupil  capacity  for  seeing  underlying  reasons  and 
for  comprehending  motives  " ;  it  "  develops  capacity  for  effective 
work,  not  capacity  for  absorption  alone  " ;  it  helps  to  develop  "  the 
scientific  habit  of  mind  " ;  it  helps  to  inspire  a  pupil  "  with  a 
love  of  reading  which  will  prove  a  priceless  treasure  to  him."1 
How  are  some,  or  any,  of  these  aims  for  the  study  of  history, 
or  similar  ideals  for  the  study  of  any  subject  whatever,  to  be 
realized  by  the  current  practices  of  spending  all  the  time  avail- 
able on  hearing  the  text? 

If  you  ask  teachers  of  history  why  they  are  teaching  it,  the 
most  customary  answer  is  that  "  history  develops  judgment."  In 
the  hundreds  of  class  rooms  where  I  have  made  observations 
of  the  questioning,  I  have  found  very  few  questions  so  framed 
by  teachers  of  history  that  they  called  for  any  individual  judg- 
ments. Psychology  teaches  us  that  the  only  way  to  train  the 
ability  to  form  historical  judgments  is  through  exercise.  I  have 
found  such  questions  as  this :  "  Was  the  king  right  in  imposing 
the  stamp  tax  upon  the  colonists  ?  "  This  sounds  like  the  appeal 
for  a  possible  judgment  by  the  pupils,  but  it  cannot  be  a  real 
judgment  when  the  pages  of  all  the  texts  distinctly  reveal  marked 
censure  of  the  king.  "  In  what  respect  would  you  call  the  War 
of  1812  a  second  War  of  Independence?  "  appears  to  be  a  ques- 
tion involving  the  pupil's  judgment;  but  when  the  text-book 
lesson  prepared  at  home  contained  the  sentence;  "  The  War  of 
1812  has  been  often  and  truly  called  the  Second  War  of  Inde- 
pendence, which  should  be  understood  to  mean  not  merely  inde- 
pendence of  other  nations,  but  of  the  conditions  of  colonial  life," 
the  answer  was  obviously  colored  by  the  author's  statement,  and 
hence  it  could  not  be  a  judgment  of  the  pupil. 

It  seems  a  paradox  to  say  that  there  are  times  when  a  judg- 
ment question  is  not  a  judgment  question,  but  if  we  attempt  to 
analyze  so-called  judgment  questions  in  history  we  can  find  many 
illustrations  to  corroborate  the  statement. 

Analysis  of  the  six  stenographic  lesson  reports  on  history 
reveals  the  fact  that,  by  classifying  as  a  judgment  question  every 
one  that  could  possibly  involve  the  element  of  judgment,  the 
highest  attainment  is  twenty-eight  in  a  total  of  one  hundred  and 
twenty-five,  and  twenty-nine  in  a  total  of  one  hundred  and  five, 

1  The  Study  of  History  in  Schools.    Report  of  the  Committee  of  Seven, 

60      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

while  the  lowest  record  was  three  in  sixty.  The  following  ques- 
tions from  the  first  mentioned  lesson  show  something  of  the  type 
of  judgment  questions  used : 

TEACHER:  The  end  of  to-day's  lesson  says  that  certain  of  the  achieve- 
ments of  the  Greeks  during  the  period  that  is  treated  in  the  chapter  show 
the  sterling  qualities  of  the  Greek  mind.  What  does  sterling  meant 

PUPIL:     The  very  finest. 

TEACHER:     Any  other  answer? 

PUPIL:     Good  qualities. 

TEACHER:     That  is  rather  general. 

PUPIL  :     Best  qualities. 

PUPIL:     Next  to  the  best. 

TEACHER:  Next  to  the  best?  When  you  think  of  "  sterling  "  silver 
as  the  best? 

PUPIL:     Gold  is  better  than  silver. 

TEACHER:  Sterling  silver  is  the  best  of  its  kind,  isn't  it?  Any  other 
explanation  of  sterling? 

PUPIL  :     Thorough. 

Then  follow  twenty-four  memory  questions  based  upon  the 
text,  after  which  there  is  a  return  to  the  judgment  questions  in 
line  with  the  above. 

TEACHER:  Now,  what  do  you  think  sterling  qualities  of  mind  means 

PUPIL:  That  they  had  high  ideals;  they  were  true  to  them  and  were 

TEACHER:  A  better  answer  still.  What  do  we  mean  by  "  sterling 
qualities  of  mind  "? 

PUPIL:  The  very  highest.  They  could  not  be  influenced  by  any  other 
people's  ideas. 

TEACHER:     They  were,  I  think. 

PUPIL:  I  think  the  people  cared  to  love  the  best  of  everything.  I 
think  these  qualities  were  at  the  highest  point;  they  never  reached  such 
a  refined  state  before,  and  everything  was  the  best  of  its  kind. 

TEACHER:     Any  other  answer? 

PUPIL:     The  strongest  qualities. 

PUPIL:     They  looked  for  beauty  in  everything. 

Later  in  the  lesson  we  find : 

TEACHER:  Do  you  suppose  it  takes  more  thought  to  write  prose  than 
to  write  poetry?  (Some  pupils  reply  "  yes  "  and  some  "  no.") 

TEACHER:  That  would  be  an  interesting  question  to  debate,  wouldn't 
it?  They  were  beginning  to  think  more.  What  is  thinking? 

PUPIL  :     Reasoning. 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  61 

TEACHER:  Sometimes  it  is  a  little  different  from  reasoning;  you  just 
sit  down  and  remember  things  that  have  happened.  And  how  would  you 
describe  that? 

PUPIL  :     Reflection. 

TEACHER:  That  is  just  right.  They  were  coming  to  reflect  upon  things; 
and  what  was  another  thing  that  went  with  that?  As  you  reflect  upon 
what  you  have  done  and  upon  what  you  are  going  to  do  and  upon  what 
your  neighbors  are  doing,  and  what  you  think  they  ought  to  do,  you  grow 
wise.  But  what  is  preliminary  to  that? 

PUPIL:     You  grow  mature. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  more  mature;  that  is  good. 

PUPIL:     More  critical. 

TEACHER:     That  is  just  the  right  word. 

Nine  memory  questions  follow,  and  then: 

TEACHER  :  Herodotus  listened  to  all  these  tales  that  were  told  him. 
Did  they  make  scientific  history,  do  you  think? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  Would  that  be  accurate,  to  put  down  everything  that  every- 
body told  you?  What  was  the  difference  between  Herodotus  and  Thucyd- 
ides;  was  the  man  himself  upright;  did  he  keep  strictly  to  what  he  knew 
was  true? 

PUPIL:     He  loved  the  truth. 

TEACHER:     Is  that  a  good  quality  in  historians? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  I  think  it  is  one  of  the  very  finest  cures  for  gossip,  because 
if  once  you  learn  to  criticize — this  is  the  critical  age,  isn't  it?  If  you 
once  learn  to  criticize  the  statements  that  people  make,  you  won't  believe 
everything  that  is  told  you  by  the  neighbors.  Herodotus  believed  every- 
thing, wrote  it  all  down.  Thucydides  did  not  write  down  everything 
because  he  wanted  the  truth.  What  was  the  difference  between  Thucydides 
and  Xenophon? 

The  last  question  called  for  comparison  of  facts  as  also  another 
upon  the  same  topic.  "  Which  do  you  think  had  the  more  mili- 
tary subject,  Thucydides  or  Xenophon?"  The  remaining  judg- 
ment questions  call  for  incidental  opinions,  and  are  scattered. 

Thus  at  intervals  throughout  a  lesson  that  was  interesting  in 
many  ways  the  pupils  were  thrown  upon  their  own  resources 
and  encouraged  to  exercise  their  individual  powers  of  discrim- 
ination. It  will  be  noticed,  however,  that  the  judgments  were 
largely  upon  choice  of  words  with  reference  to  historical  inter- 
pretation. Removing  many  of  the  quoted  questions  from  the 
history  setting,  one  might  as  easily  believe  that  they  were  taken 
from  an  English  lesson. 

oj      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

Unfortunately,  I  am  not  able  to  find  in  the  six  history  manu- 
scripts before  me  many  questions  involving  judgments  that  are 
more  strictly  historical,  unless  we  except  a  few  such  as  the 
following : 

Was  that  something  to  be  desired  that  Europe  should  be  saved  from 
Mohammedanism  f 

Why  was  the  saving  of  Christianity  to  the  world  better  than  if  it  had 
been  converted  to  Mohammedanism! 

Do  you  think  that  Congress's  treatment  of  Arnold  in  reference  to  those 
charges  was  justified! 

What  feature  of  Arnold's  treason  do  you  consider  was  most  reprehensi- 
ble, most  open  to  criticism! 

What  might  be  interpreted  as  a  flag  of  truce! 

Do  you  think  Aristides  really  meant  it  (The  Delian  League)  should  be 
a  fair  distribution  of  power! 

If  we  cannot  find  in  a  fair  range  of  practice  any  indication 
of  historical  judgments,  the  deduction  is  obvious  that  there  is  a 
significant  discrepancy  between  the  JUDGMENT  aim  and  the 
MEMORY  practice  in  the  teaching  of  history. 

Returning  to  Table  VI  we  find  indications  that  English  lessons 
are  not  as  slavishly  committed  to  the  use  of  memory  questions 
as  history  lessons.  The  type  of  question  that  calls  for  reflection 
seems  to  have  a  distinct  place  in  English  work,  and  many  of 
the  memory  questions  are  of  the  associative  type  rather  than  the 
purely  verbal.  To  illustrate  this  fact,  I  will  quote  at  some 
length  from  a  stenographic  lesson  on  Tennyson's  Elaine  (third- 
year  English).  Leading  up  to  the  contrast  in  character  of  the 
Queen  and  Elaine  we  find  the  following  questions  and  answers : 

TEACHER:     How  about  that  point! 

PUPIL:  The  queen  never  told  him  to  stay  at  home,  but  he  happened 
to  look  at  her  and  catch  her  eye,  and  he  thought  she  didn't  want  him 
to  go  and  fight,  but  she  told  him  she  did  want  him  to  go. 

TEACHER:     For  what  reason! 

PUPIL:  Because  there  had  been  so  much  rumor  in  the  court  about  his 
love  for  the  queen,  and  she  thought  Arthur  had  some  suspicions  himself. 

TEACHER:     Were  her  reasons  for  wanting  him  to  go  high  or  low! 

PUPIL  :     Low. 

TEACHER:  A  mere  fear  of  gossip;  that  brings  us  to  the  question  of 
the  queen's  character;  all  the  way  through  what  sort  of  a  woman  does 
she  show  herself  to  be! 

PUPIL:  I  don't  think  she  was  at  all  an  honest  woman, — very  deceitful, 
very  faithless,  she  really  had  no  love  for  the  king,  and  she  loved  Launcelot, 
— I  don 't  see  why  she  married  the  king, — unless  to  be  queen.. 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  63 

TEACHER:  Evidently  she  is  faithless  to  him  now;  how  does  her  mind 
work,  along  just  and  noble  lines  or  not? 

PUPIL  :     No. 

TEACHER:     Does  that  come  out  in  any  other  way? 

PUPIL:     After,  when  she  is  jealous  of  Elaine. 

TEACHER:  When  she  hears  the  news  of  the  tournament,  do  you  remem- 
ber how  she  takes  it? 

PUPIL:     She  goes  to  her  room  and  throws  diamonds  in  the  river. 

TEACHER:     The  thing  that  hurts  her  most  is  what? 

PUPIL:     He  wore  Elaine's  emblem. 

TEACHER:  If  she  really  loved  Launcelot  herself,  what  would  have  hurt 
her  most? 

PUPIL:     That  he  had  been  wounded. 

TEACHER:     And  probably  unto  death;  how  does  Elaine  think  of  it? 

PUPIL:     Thinks  only  of  him. 

TEACHER:  The  difference  between  the  two.  In  comparing  Elaine  with 
the  queen,  is  there  any  other  contrast? 

PUPIL:  Elaine  is  very  simple,  and  the  queen  is — Elaine  is  not  worldly- 
wise,  is  very  innocent. 

TEACHER:     That  comes  out  in  what  ways? 

PUPIL:  She  doesn't  know  what  love  is;  she  had  never  been  outside 
the  castle;  and  she  doesn't  try  to  hide  her  love,  and  the  queen  tries  to 
do  all  she  can  to  hide  it. 

PUPIL:  I  don't  think  that  is  particularly  against  her,  for  she  had  to 
hide  it. 

TEACHER:  That  is  true,  and  yet  would  Elaine  have  had  the  skill  to 
hide  her  love  whatever  the  situation  was?  Elaine  was  open  and  frank 
and  above-board.  Is  there  any  man  in  the  poem  who  is  like  that? 

PUPIL:     The  king;  there  is  a  man  like  the  queen,  too. 

TEACHER:     Who  is  that? 

PUPIL:     The  man  who  goes  on  the  quest. 

TEACHER:     What  is  his  name? 

PUPIL  :     Gawain. 

TEACHER:     He  shows  what? 

PUPIL:  He  is  worldly- wise  and  polite,  pleasing  to  see,  but  he  is  false, 
untrue  to  the  king. 

TEACHER:     His  lack  of  truth  comes  out. 

PUPIL  :     Doesn  't  do  what  the  king  sends  him  to  do. 

TEACHER:  What  else  does  he  do  that  seems  underhand,  or  not  quite 

PUPIL:  He  gives  the  diamond  to  Elaine  to  give  to  Launcelot,  and  goes 
back  and  says  he  cannot  find  him. 

PUPIL  :     Didn  't  ask  to  see  the  shield,  and  makes  love  to  Elaine. 

TEACHER  :  All  the  way  through  he  is  really  not  upright  and  true.  Come 
back  for  a  moment  to  Elaine,  and  her  innocence  and  simplicity;  how  do 
other  people  treat  Elaine? 

PUPIL:     Her  father  and  brothers  regard  her  as  little  girl,  give  her  very 

64      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

much  her  own  way;  they  call  her  wilful,  but  I  don't  think  she  is,  I  didn't 
see  it  in  her  actions. 

TEACHER:     In  what  other  ways  did  they  treat  her  as  a  child! 

PUPIL:  In  giving  her  the  diamond,  they  thought  it  ought  not  to  be 
given  to  her  but  to  the  queen. 

TEACHER:  What  else  did  they  do  that  makes  her  feel  uncomfortable 
when  Launcelot  first  comes  f 

PUPIL:     They  talk  about  her  in  her  presence  with  strangers. 

TEACHER:  The  very  point  of  being  talked  over  in  the  presence  of 
strangers  is  embarrassing  to  a  girl  who  is  old  enough  to  feel  that  she 
isn't  any  longer  a  child.  There  are  other  little  points  that  show  that 
in  the  eyes  of  her  family  she  was  a  little  girl.  So  far  as  we  have  con- 
sidered it,  you  see  this  poem  is  a  composition  of  contrasted  characters, 
a  simple,  frank,  childlike  girl  is  contrasted  with  a  worldly-wise  scheming 
woman,  the  queen.  This  courtly,  gentlemanly,  but  not  altogether  honest 
and  straightforward  Gawain  is  contrasted  with  the  simple  and  manly 

The  next  time,  in  finishing  this  poem,  consider  Launcelot,  whether  he 
is  an  out  and  out  scoundrel,  or  whether  he  is  noble  and  manly  at  heart, 
etc.,  etc. 

The  field  of  English  is  rich  in  opportunities  for  judgment  ques- 
tions. It  has  often  seemed  to  me,  as  I  followed  one  class  after 
anpther  through  a  day's  activities,  that  the  English  hour  is  the 
only  one  during  the  school  day  when  pupils  are  ever  allowed  to 
have  any  ideas  or  judgments  of  their  own.  The  English  lesson 
is  frequently  an  oasis  of  thought  activity  in  a  desert  of  fact.  This 
may  be  due  to  the  fact  that  English  instruction  has  been  eman- 
cipated in  a  sense  from  the  thraldom  of  bookishness  that  still 
grips  history  instruction.  Pupils  in  English  are  no  longer  com- 
pelled to  study  a  book  telling  about  every  masterpiece  in  the 
English  language :  instead,  they  are  expected  to  know  intimately 
a  very  few  good  things — and  in  the  process  of  knowing  them 
other  forms  of  intellectual  activity  besides  verbal  memory  are 
called  into  exercise.  Such  freedom  would  be  just  as  possible  for 
history  instruction,  if  the  makers  of  texts  and  of  courses  of  study 
would  get  away  from  that  stupendous  sequence  of  political  events 
from  4000  B.  c.  to  the  present,  and  see  the  truly  educative 
importance  of  living  for  a  time  with  a  few  big  human  events. 

IV.     Applying  the  measure  of  oral  expression. 

Oral  expression  does  not  show  the  improvement  it  would  be 
natural  to  expect  from  the  lesser  number  of  questions.  There 
is  everywhere  too  much  talking  done  by  the  teacher  to  permit  of 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  65 

much  oral  expression  from  the  pupils :  and  in  many  subjects  there 
is  too  close  adherence  to  the  repetition  of  text  to  permit  of  any 
degree  of  freedom  or  originality  in  expression. 

We  have  been  taught  to  believe  that  English  lessons  illustrate 
the  highest  standards  available  in  amount,  freedom,  and  quality 
of  oral  expression.  Teachers  of  history  and  science  and  mathe- 
matics are  everywhere  urged  to  give  thought  to  the  oral  expression 
of  their  pupils,  but  they  are  never  held  to  quite  the  same  standards 
of  attainment  as  those  set  for  the  English  teachers.  The  con- 
clusions that  have  been  forced  upon  me  in  the  series  of  studies 
here  recorded  are  substantially  that  in  the  matter  of  freedom  of 
expression,  correct  diction,  and  distinct  enunciation,  lessons  in 
English,  on  the  whole,  show  little  improvement  in  practice  over 
other  subjects. 

The  aim  that  is  most  apparent  in  English  lessons  is  the  "  ap- 
preciation "  aim.  It  seems  to  be  a  well-established  ideal  in  Eng- 
lish instruction,  showing  results,  in  most  of  the  classes  under 
observation,  that  are  most  gratifying.  The  form  and  the  fullness 
of  expression,  however,  seem  not  to  be  factors  of  any  consider- 
able importance.  "  Give  me  the  thought,  Mary :  never  mind 
the  words :  now  listen  while  /  word  it  for  you  " — this  is  the  spirit 
— though  not  in  so  many  words — that  finds  reflection  in  many 
class  rooms.  It  is  part  of  the  mistaken  conception  of  education 
that  it  is  possible  to  teach  children  to  be  self-reliant  by  doing 
things  for  them. 

Sometimes  the  failure  to  elicit  good  expression  is  due  to  the 
fact  that  teachers  have  adopted  the  lawyers'  practice  of  embody- 
ing in  the  phraseology  of  their  questions  the  substance  of  the 
subject  under  discussion,  allowing  the  pupils  to  merely  punctuate 
the  story  now  and  then  with  monosyllabic  answers.  Where  such 
practices  exist,  it  makes  only  slight  difference  to  the  cause  of 
instruction  whether  there  are  two  hundred  questions  or  one 

Sometimes  the  failure  to  elicit  good  expression  is  due  to  the 
fact  that  while  teachers  may  ask  fairly  good  questions,  they  are 
satisfied  with  insufficient  answers.  They  are  content  to  pick  a 
portion  of  an  answer  here,  and  a  portion  there,  without  requiring 
pupils  to  collect  and  round  out  these  tidbits  into  a  completed 
thought.  Pupils  soon  learn  when  a  teacher  is  satisfied  with 
fragmentary  answers. 

66      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

This  form  of  answer  secured  by  picking  here  and  there,  makes 
a  composite  affair  that  may  contribute  to  the  uses  of  instruction 
or  to  its  abuses,  accordingly  as  it  is  treated.  The  exigencies  of 
instruction  demand  for  the  "  composite "  answer  a  somewhat 
definite  place  in  instruction  because  it  is  by  means  of  accretions 
of  fact  here,  and  suggestion  there,  and  hint  from  another  source, 
that  our  knowledge  of  a  subject  is  augmented.  The  composite 
answer  may  be  used  in  purposeful  ways ;  its  abuse  lies  in  allowing 
it  to  foster  guessing  processes  and  shiftless  habits  of  thought.  By 
way  of  illustration,  I  will  quote  a  few  paragraphs  from  the  lesson 
comparing  the  old  and  the  new  ballads : 

' '  Let  us  see  about  the  spirit  in  which  they  were  written,  that  is,  the  kind 
of  qualities  the  people  in  those  ballads  showed,  and  the  kind  of  qualities 
in  human  nature  people  of  that  day  liked. " 

PUPIL:     I  think  bravery. 

TEACHER   (writing  bravery):     Anything  else?  BRAVERY. 

PUPIL:     A  hero  and  a  villain. 

TEACHER:     Hero  and  villain;  in  other  words,  you  take  sides? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     What  other  qualities  besides  bravery? 

PUPIL:     Treachery,  of  the  king,  in  the  ballad  of  Johnie  Armstrong. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  and  the  hero  shows  what  quality? 

PUPIL:     He  believes  in  the  king  even  when  he  is  summoned  before  him. 

TEACHER:  Good  faith  on  one  side,  and  treachery  on  the  other.  Any- 
thing else? 

PUPIL:     Honor. 

TEACHER:     Honor,  yes.     (Writes  honor.)  HONOR. 

PUPIL:     A  great  deal  of  honor  among  themselves. 

TEACHER:  Loyalty  to  each  other;  and  as  regards  their  enemies,  what? 


PUPIL:  They  used  to  fight  for  fun,  and  they  had  certain  rules;  they 
were  not  really  angry,  they  had  to  keep  certain  rules. 

TEACHER:     In  other  words? 

PUPIL:     They  couldn't  do  just  as  they  wanted  to. 

TEACHER:  There  were  rules  of  honor  even  toward  your  enemy,  a  sort 
of  amateur  spirit. 

PUPIL:     Courtesy  to  their  enemies?  COURTESY. 

TEACHER:  Courtesy, — and  perhaps  we  might  say  this  includes  being 
true  to  the  rules." 

In  this  series  of  questions  the  words  BRAVERY,  HONOR,  LOY- 
ALTY, COURTESY,  constituted  a  composite  answer  for  the  original 
question.  The  words  were  written  on  the  board  as  fast  as  they 
were  rescued  from  the  debris  of  incorrect  or  partly  correct 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  67 

answers  of  the  pupils  who  were  thinking  aloud.  The  fact  that  they 
were  thus  collected  and  visualized  gave  the  series  of  questions  a 
value  that  would  have  been  lacking  without  a  summary.  The  best 
summary  is  the  one  made  by  the  pupils  in  answer  to  the  final 
question  "  Now  tell  me  in  complete  form  the  qualities  in  human 
nature  which  people  of  that  day  liked."  Answer :  Bravery,  honor, 
loyalty,  courtesy. 

A  series  of  What  else?  or  What  next?  questions,  without  the 
final  collection  and  expression  by  the  pupils,  is  a  waste  of  valu- 
able time. 

Sometimes  the  failure  to  elicit  good  expression  is  due  to  am- 
biguity in  the  phraseology  of  the  question,  or  to  the  common  habit 
of  asking  two  questions  at  once,  illustrations  of  which  can  be 
found  in  many  of  the  lessons  quoted. 

V.  Little  thought  given  to  the  needs  of  individuals. 

Here  again,  with  the  smaller  number  of  questions  there  is 
opportunity  for  the  needs  of  the  individual  students  to  be  con- 
sidered, but  I  have  found  no  indication  that  the  opportunity  has 
been  improved. 

VI.  The  class  room  the  place  for  displaying  knowledge. 

This  criticism  pertains  as  directly  to  the  lessons  with  few  ques- 
tions as  to  those  with  many.  The  thought  that  we  should  make 
the  class  room  a  place  for  displaying  knowledge  is  nowhere  present 
in  any  aim  of  education,  but  it  seems  to  be  everywhere  present 
in  practice.  It  is  inconceivable  that  teachers  need  to  ask  of  six- 
teen-year-old pupils  as  many  as  one  hundred  and  twenty-five 
questions  in  order  to  find  out  whether  or  not  they  have  learned 
a  five-page  lesson.  Why  then  do  we  fill  a  class  period  with 
treadmill  work  of  this  type? 

VII.  Organisation  of  subject  matter. 

In  the  matter  of  organization  of  subject  matter  there  seems  to 
be  very  little  difference  between  the  lessons  with  many  questions 
and  those  with  few.  Organization  of  new  material  and  sum- 
marizing of  results  seem  to  be  negligible  factors  in  class-room 
work,  except  as  the  work  is  done  by  text-books  and  teachers. 
Wherever  the  book  is  the  medium  of  instruction  the  organization 
incorporated  on  its  pages  constitutes,  in  a  majority  of  cases, 
the  basis  of  class  work.  There  is  rarely  any  attempt  made  to 

68      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

reconstruct  subject  matter  in  ways  better  suited  to  the  needs  of 
individual  groups  of  students.  It  is  the  book  first  and  always. 
All  of  that  train  of  educational  opportunity  that  accompanies 
the  process  of  organizing  subject  matter  and  teaching  pupils  how 
to  organize  and  to  summarize  is  completely  lost  sight  of  in  slavish 
adherence  to  the  text-book.  It  is  the  type  of  education  that  con- 
cerns itself  with  teaching  the  book  instead  of  teaching  the  children. 
The  evil  grows  as  pupils  are  made  to  depend  more  and  more 
upon  texts  for  instruction  when  they  get  into  the  higher  grades 
of  elementary  school  and  into  high  school.  At  the  very  time  when 
they  should  grow  in  the  power  to  discriminate,  to  select  and  to 
apply  what  is  vital  to  them  in  all  the  vast  encyclopedia  of  fact 
presented  to  them,  they  are  being  stuffed  with  the  masses  of 
fact  selected  for  them  and  arranged  for  them  by  some  one  else. 
Small  wonder  that  we  find  so  little  knowledge  well  digested. 

Facts  have  "  relative  values  "  according  to  the  uses  which  they 
serve.  It  is  part  of  the  educative  process  to  reveal  values  and 
to  train  pupils  to  the  habit  of  measuring  relative  values.1  This 
cannot  be  accomplished  through  the  type  of  recitation  that  contains 
seventy-five  or  more  questions  testing  verbal  memory.  Here  we 
have  a  lesson  on  Charlemagne  from  Robinson's  "  History  of 
Western  Europe."  The  lesson  is  "  heard  "  according  to  the  organ- 
ization by  topics  as  found  on  the  margin  of  the  text  and  the 
number  of  questions  per  topic  is  roughly  indicated  here: 

<  'harlemagne's  personal  appearance 3 

His  education 2 

The  Charlemagne  of  romance 3 

Charlemagne's  idea  of  a  great  Christian  Empire 4 

Conquest  of  Saxons 6 

Conversion  of  Saxons 3 

Foundation  of  towns  in  Northern  Germany 6 

"N'magno  becomes  king  of  the  Lombards 2 

Incorporation  of  Aquitaine  and  Bavaria 6 

Charlemagne 's  foreign  policy 5 

•••  hes  and  Margraves 4 

<  'harlemagne  in  Spain 3 

Charlemagne  crowned  Emperor 1 

Charlemagne  merited  his  title 4 

<  ''>ntimiity  of  the  Roman  Empire 6 

<  'hnrlf'TTiagne's  system  of  government 4 

'  Missi  Dominici  "  2 

Hark  olrmonts  before  Charlemagne 6 

Elements  of  learning  preserved  by  Church 10 

Establishment  of  schools. .  8 

1  See  McMurry,  How  to  Study  and  Teaching  How  to  Study. 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  69 

The  recitation  of  this  lesson  proceeded  with  monotonous  regu- 
larity, all  facts  evidently  being  regarded  as  of  equal  value.  The 
fact  that  Charlemagne's  nose  was  "  somewhat  above  the  common 
size  "  was  received  with  the  same  degree  of  emphasis  as  the  truly 
significant  fact  of  his  power  as  an  organizer.  Such  a  lesson  might 
well  be  illustrated  thus,  one  vertical  mark  representing  each  of  the 
questions  indicated  above. 

FIG.  i 

In  such  a  lesson  everything  proceeds  on  a  dead  level  of  uni- 
formity ;  there  is  no  hint  of  relative  values ;  there  are  no  mounts 
of  prominence ;  there  is  no  summarizing  of  the  few  leading  facts 
to  be  carried  over  as  the  basis  for  the  next  day's  work.  If  a 
lesson  is  ever  worth  teaching  it  is  sure  to  contain  certain  facts 
that  are  more  important  than  others,  facts  that  may  be  designated 
as  mounts  of  prominence.  Around  each  of  these  mounts  a  cer- 
tain accumulation  of  preliminary  or  explanatory  instruction  must 
of  necessity  centre  in  order  to  raise  the  essentials  to  eminence, 
the  author  of  the  book  in  question  suggests  on  page  79  a 
plan  of  organization  which  seemed  to  be  wholly  lost  sight  of  in 
the  recitation.  He  says,  "  We  shall  consider  him  (Charlemagne) 
first  as  a  conqueror,  then  as  an  organizer  and  creator  of  govern- 
mental institutions,  and  lastly  as  a  promoter  of  culture  and  en- 
lightenment."1 These  three  values  combined  with  the  preliminary 
ones  regarding  his  appearance  and  personality  would  easily  con- 
stitute four  mounts  of  prominence  for  the  lesson  around  which 
all  explanatory  material  would  naturally  group  itself  in  relative 
degrees  of  importance. 

To  carry  a  homely  illustration  further,  such  a  lesson  might  be 
presented  thus : 

FIG.  2 

The  four  mounts  of  prominence  suggested  by  the  author  are 
represented  .by  a,  b,  c,  d.    A  certain  number  of  questions  upon 

1  Robinson,   History  of  Western  Europe,  p.  79. 

70      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

minor  facts  are  necessary  to  raise  these  significant  facts  to  rela- 
tive prominence,  but  this  accomplished,  they  sink  into  insignifi- 
cance and  need  no  longer  be  retained  in  memory.  A,  b,  c,  d,  are 
essentials ;  they  bear  a  definite  relation  to  each  other  and  to  the 
preceding  work;  they  serve  as  basis  for  future  work. 

It  is  not  sufficient  that  a,  b,  c,  d,  be  illuminated  for  an  instant 
by  the  searchlight  of  the  teacher's  intelligence;  they  must  be 
appreciated  by  the  pupils;  they  must  be  sought  for  and  found 
by  them  as  far  as  possible,  and  fixed  by  repetition  at  the  close 
of  the  hour. 

This  matter  of  summarizing  essentials  at  the  close  of  an  hour 
is  a  very  necessary  step  towards  ability  to  organize  new  subject 
matter  when  one  approaches  it  alone  and  unaided.  I  have  not 
found  it  to  be  a  general  feature  of  class  instruction  in  our  schools 
to  expect  pupils  to  make  summaries  of  work.  In  only  three  of 
the  one  hundred  lessons  observed  were  there  any  attempts  to 
summarize  at  the  close  of  the  hour;  in  several  more  there  was 
at  the  beginning  of  an  hour  a  gathering  up  of  main  facts  of  a 
preceding  lesson.  This  latter  method  is  rarely  successful  unless 
the  summary  has  been  well  made  at  the  close  of  the  former  lesson, 
for  a  summary,  to  be  potent,  should  come  when  all  factors  are 
fresh  in  memory.  Frequently  the  summary  is  made  by  the  teacher 
at  the  beginning  of  the  hour,  as  in  the  following: 

TEACHER:  Yesterday,  in  your  work,  we  took  up  the  results  of  the 
Persian  wars,  and  we  saw  what  the  result  was  to  Persia,  how  they  had 
been  limited  in  their  power;  and  we  saw  the  result  to  Greece,  how  they 
had  won  the  victories,  and  how  they  were  getting  to  be  pretty  confident  of 
their  own  powers;  and  we  saw  how  Athens  had  seen  her  opportunity, 
and  how  she  could  build  up  her  power.  We  saw  also  that  while  she  was 
absolutely  destroyed,  her  buildings  all  gone,  she  still  felt  she  had  a  city, 
and  she  saw  the  possibility  of  bringing  that  back  into  power.  Who  was 
leading  her  at  that  moment! 

The  pupils  could  have  collected  a  summary  of  the  chief  re- 
sults of  the  Persian  wars  at  the  close  of  their  preceding  lesson 
just  as  well  as  the  teacher,  if  they  had  been  expected  to  do  so. 
Then  the  call  to  attention  on  being  asked  to  repeat  it  at  the  be- 
ginning of  this  hour  would  have  been  a  more  effective  stimulus 
than  the  one  that  greeted  them  when  the  teacher  began  to  sum- 
marize for  them. 

Our  teachers  seem  to  feel  that  pupils  cannot  do  things  well 
enough  to  be  trusted  with  the  most  important  activities  of  a 

A  Smaller  Number  of  Questions  71 

lesson.  The  consequence  is  that  the  over-zealous  teacher  invari- 
ably steps  into  the  breach  and  performs  the  work  himself.  The 
stenographic  lessons  substantiate  this  statement  at  one  point  and 
another.  It  certainly  is  easier  for  the  teacher  to  give  a  sum- 
mary than  to  wait  for  the  pupils  to  work  it  out,  and  if  the 
possession  of  that  summary  is  the  one  thing  desired  it  would  be 
quite  right  to  hand  down  summaries  from  one  generation  to 
another  just  as  we  hand  down  books  and  manuscripts.  But 
the  point  is  that  the  summary  does  not  amount  to  a  row  of  pins 
except  as  the  result  of  a  process  of  Intellectual  activity. 

What  should  we  think  of  a  teacher  of  manual  work  who  said 
to  his  boys,  "  The  hardest  thing  you  have  to  do  to-day  is  to 
make  a  perfect  mortise  and  tenon  joint.  It  will  take  you  too 
long  to  do  it,  so  I  will  make  it  for  you,  while  you  look  on." 
Yet  here  is  the  text-book  teacher  who  says,  "  The  most  impor- 
tant thing  just  here  is  a  good  summary;  I  want  you  to  take 
it  down  in  your  note-books  as  I  give  it  to  you  and  learn  it  for 

So  far  as  our  data  furnish  evidence,  the  paramount  con- 
clusions regarding  our  ability  to  measure  the  efficiency  of  in- 
struction by  the  number  of  questions  are  these: 

OF  BAD  TEACHING  (except  in  some  modern  language  and  de- 
velopmental lessons). 


Efficiency  of  instruction  involves  good  questioning ;  good  ques- 
tioning is  synonymous  with  the  use  of  good  questions.  That  we 
do  not  find  good  questions  identified  with  instruction  to  any  ap- 
preciable extent  even  in  lessons  reflecting  a  relatively  small  num- 
ber of  questions,  may  find  its  explanation  in  any  one,  or  all,  of 
the  following  conditions :  (a)  The  absence  of  clearly  defined 
purposes  for  instruction;  (b)  failure  to  appreciate  the  function 
of  the  question  as  a  medium  of  instruction;  (c)  dominance  of 
the  text-book;  (d)  the  feeling  of  indifference  to  the  methods 
of  the  recitation  in  colleges  and  training  schools  for  teachers; 
(e)  the  almost  total  neglect  of  supervision  of  instruction  in  sec- 
ondary schools. 



What  do  we  mean  when  we  talk  about  the  quality  of  a  ques- 
tion? What  is  a  good  question?  Since  the  number  of  ques- 
tions cannot  be  the  full  measure  of  efficiency  in  questioning, 
what  other  tests  must  be  applied  to  determine  efficiency?  "If 
I  always  ask  Why  questions  and  How  questions,  shall  I  be  a 
better  teacher  than  if  I  ask  When  and  Where  and  What  ques- 
tions ?  "  asks  one  teacher  who  has  turned  the  searchlight  of  in- 
vestigation upon  his  own  methods  of  instruction. 

The  attempt  to  deduce  a  formula  for  guidance  in  phrasing 
questions  or  to  write  out  a  prescription  for  the  cure  of  all  the 
evils  of  questioning  would  be  as  futile  as  to  reduce  the  ideal  of 
instruction  to  a  sentence,  or  the  philosophy  of  education  to  a 

It  is  impossible  to  say  that  a  Why  question  will  always  be  a 
better  one  than  a  When  or  a  What  question,  because  there  are 
other  elements  besides  form  that  enter  into  the  consideration  of 
quality  or  worth.  I  presume  there  is  little  doubt  but  that  the 
best  question  so  far  as  motivation  is  concerned  is  the  one  a 
person  asks  when  he  really  wishes  to  know  something — the  kind 
that  come  spontaneously  when  he  seeks  information  to  round 
out  and  promote  thought  at  just  the  point  where  help  is  needed. 
In  the  world  outside  the  class  room,  in  all  phases  of  social  inter- 
course, the  one  who  wishes  concrete  information  asks  questions 
to  secure  it.  In  the  relationship  of  adults  with  adults,  adults 
and  children,  and  children  with  each  other,  the  one  who  wishes 
to  learn  is  the  questioner.  A  child  questions  persistently  in  his 
search  for  knowledge  and  his  questions  are  well-aimed  and 
purposeful  forces  for  education. 

Within  a  few  months,  I  have  chanced  to  hear  two  conversa- 
tions carried  on  in  front  of  a  window  through  which  students 


The  Quality  of  Questions  73 

could  be  seen  modeling  in  clay.  In  one  instance  the  conversa- 
tion between  child  and  father  ran  thus :  "  What  are  they  doing 
down  there,  daddy  ?  "  "  They  are  modeling  in  clay."  "  What 
are  they  doing  that  for?"  "Well,  they  want  to  learn  how  to 
make  a  statue  that  looks  like  somebody."  "  Is  the  somebody 
there?"  "Yes,  he  is  probably  sitting  in  the  corner."  "What 
are  they  making  it  of  ?  "  "  Of  clay.  We  will  walk  around  on 
1 1 6th  Street,  if  you  like,  and  I  will  show  you  a  statue  that  was 
made  by  a  sculptor  who  began  it  just  as  these  students  are 
making  that  one."  We  can  picture  the  child's  introduction  to 
Daniel  French's  Alma  Mater  in  front  of  the  Columbia  Library 
and  the  unfolding  of  his  intelligence  regarding  its  construction 
as  the  boy  plied  his  questions,  and  received  stimulating  answers. 
A  few  days  later,  standing  before  the  same  window  another 
child  asked  practically  the  same  initial  question  of  his  nurse, 
who  gave  the  response,  "  O,  making  mud  pies,  I  guess."  "  What 
are  those  big  people  making  mud  pies  for,  Mary?"  "  O,  don't 
bother  me  now  with  any  more  questions."  Whereupon  the 
child  turned  his  attention  and  his  activities  to  teasing  his  dog. 
In  both  cases  the  questions  were  "  natural,"  that  is,  the  would- 
be  learners  were  the  questioners.  The  educational  opportunity 
was  the  same:  in  the  first  instance  the  learner's  initiative  was 
judiciously  guided;  in  the  other  it  was  killed  outright. 

These  situations  are  frequently  paralleled  in  class  rooms.  The 
natural  question  has  the  richest  functioning  values  but  it  must 
be  admitted  that  it  cannot  find  full  freedom  in  the  class  room 
because  of  the  complexity  of  the  educational  problem  when  a 
group  of  children  is  to  be  instructed.  It  is  equally  true  that 
the  natural  question  does  not  need  to  be  barred  completely 
from  the  class  room;  there  is  plenty  of  opportunity  to  entertain 
good  natural  questions,  and  to  turn  them  to  account  as  important 
assets  in  instruction.  A  sensible  natural  question  is  a  valuable 
return  for  instruction,  for  it  is  an  indication  that  the  pupil's 
mind  is  operating  "  under  its  own  steam  " ;  the  momentum  once 
secured,  the  teacher  needs  to  exercise  only  the  guiding  hand. 

As  soon  as  the  question  is  taken  over  by  the  teacher  in  the 
class  room,  it  ceases  to  be  "  natural  "  and  assumes  a  "  formal " 
value.  The  teacher  does  not  ask  the  questions  because  he  really 
desires  the  forthcoming  information  as  so  much  concrete  knowl- 

74      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

edge;  he  knows  that  already.  The  pupil,  in  answering,  realizes 
this  and  he  tells  you  what  he  thinks  you  want  him  to  tell.  The 
teacher  seeks  information,  but  in  a  different  sense.  He  asks 
questions  to  see  if  his  pupil  knows,  or  to  help  him  to  know,  or 
to  secure  a  clue  for  the  direction  of  the  next  question.  Only  in 
this  interpretation  is  the  information  of  any  value  to  the  ques- 
tioner. In  this  sense  the  motive  of  the  formal  question  is  wholly 
different  from  that  of  the  natural  question. 

In  kindergarten  and  lower  grades  of  elementary  school  where 
instruction  is  more  nearly  natural,  and  where  class  work  centers 
about  the  interests  of  the  children,  the  questioning  activity  is 
likely  to  be  more  natural ;  that  is,  both  teacher  and  pupils,  while 
working  over  some  vital  problem,  ask  questions  whose  answers 
are  really  wanted.  In  this  way  the  question  and  answer  recita- 
tion may  become  a  true  conversation  hour,  with  pupils  asking 
and  pupils  and  teacher  answering,  or  teacher  asking  and  pupils 
answering,  the  teacher  the  while  skillfully  guiding  the  class 
towards  a  desired  goal. 

Such  an  ideal  use  of  the  question  and  answer  recitation  is  just 
as  much  to  be  desired  for  upper  grades  of  elementary  school, 
for  high  school,  and  for  college  instruction ;  that  it  does  not  now 
exist  in  the  higher  schools  is  due  in  part  to  the  differences  in 
motive  of  instruction.  It  may  be  just  as  desirable  that  education 
in  upper  grades  and  increasingly  in  high  school  and  college 
should  center  about  the  real  interests  of  the  learners,  but  that 
motive  has  not  yet  been  generally  accepted.  Instruction  in  the 
'higher  schools  is  still  far  more  formal  than  it  is  in  the  kinder- 
garten and  elementary  school.  The  questioning  reflects  it  and 
we  find  teachers  generally  using  the  question  in  the  formal  way 
as  an  implement  of  instruction. 

Since  it  is  not  the  purpose  of  this  study  to  promulgate  an 
educational  theory  of  instruction  for  higher  schools,  but  rather 
to  stand  upon  the  ideals  that  are  generally  accepted  and  to 
measure  the  current  practice  of  the  better  class  of  teachers  by 
these  established  standards,  our  chief  concern  is  with  the  formal 
question  rather  than  the  natural  question.  Hence,  in  consider- 
ing further  the  worth  of  a  question,  it  is  the  worth  of  the  formal 
question  that  I  have  in  mind. 

How,  then,  can  we  judge  the  worth  or  the  quality  of  a  ques- 

The  Quality  of  Questions  75 

tion?  In  estimating  the  quality  of  a  formal  question,  I  should 
say  there  are  at  least  three  elements  we  need  to  know :  ( I )  the 
degree  of  reflection  it  stimulates;  (2)  its  adaptability  to  the  ex- 
perience and  the  work  of  the  pupil;  (3)  its  "  motor-power  "  in 
drawing  forth  a  well  rounded  thought  and  adequate  expression 
for  the  same. 

I.     A  good  question  should  stimulate  refaction. 

Every  question  provokes  thought  if  it  produces  any  sort  of 
accurate  answer,  but  not  every  question  stimulates  reflection. 
Even  the  extent  and  the  intensity  of  reflection  may  vary  widely 
and  should  vary  somewhat  in  every  lesson  so  that  all  questions 
will  not  operate  in  the  same  groove  nor  keep  in  motion  the  same 
processes  of  thought  activity.  As  we  have  already  observed, 
part  of  the  difficulty  with  the  present-day  practice  is  that  so 
many  questions  furnish  exercise  for  verbal  memory  alone.  As- 
sociative memory,  even,  is  neglected  along  with  other  processes 
of  discrimination,  association  and  judgment. 

I  think  I  can  best  illustrate  my  meaning  regarding  the  extent 
and  intensity  of  reflection  by  comparison  of  a  few  sets  of 
questions : 

When  was  the  battle  of  Waterloo  fought? 

What  is  a  polygon? 

What  is  the  exception  in  the  declension  of  dea? 

What  kings  of  England  led  crusades? 

How  many  times  is  the  number  six  contained  in  sixty? 

Where  is  the  cotton  belt? 

For  these  questions  you  either  know  or  you  do  not  know  the 
answers.  No  amount  of  reflection  will  produce  the  fact  if  it  is 
not  already  in  memory.  The  question  stimulates  memory  and  in 
that  sense  it  provokes  thought,  but  the  element  of  reflection  is 
not  present  to  any  appreciable  degree,  as  it  is  in  the  following 
group : 

What  qualities  in  the  character  of  Brutus  are  brought  home  to  us  in 
the  last  scene  of  Julius  Caesar? 

What  color  in  drapery  will  look  best  with  this  wall  paper? 
What  is  there  about  a  gray  squirrel  that  reminds  you  of  a  rat? 
Why  do  you  like  the  Lady  of  the  Lake  better  than  Marmion? 
Do  you  consider  that  an  apology  was  called  for? 

76      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

These  questions  cannot  be  answered  from  memory  alone.  The 
associations,  discriminations,  and  individual  judgments  must  be 
made  by  the  one  who  is  questioned,  using  as  his  basis  certain 
facts  in  his  possession.  A  degree  of  reflection  is  called  for,  al- 
though the  intensity  of  reflection  is  not  especially  marked. 

With  the  following  group  the  intensity  of  reflection  is  more 
pronounced : 

How  did  religion  promote  the  growth  of  the  Arabic  and  Carolingian 
Empires  respectively! 

To  what  extent  did  Jefferson  and  the  early  American  statesmen  owe 
their  ideas  on  education  to  Rousseau? 

Place  in  your  note-book  as  heading  "  Mason-and-Dixon's  Line  "  and 
enter  all  fitting  information  as  you  proceed. 

What  various  forms  of  self -activity  can  you  discover  among  the  children 
of  any  class  room? 

What  special  qualifications  in  addition  to  knowledge  of  subject  matter, 
seem  to  you  desirable  for  the  teacher  of  history  in  the  secondary  school? 

Contrast  the  treatment  of  nature  in  Elizabethan  literature,  giving  refer- 
ences to  specific  authors  by  way  of  concrete  illustration. 

Trace  changes  in  the  concept  "  tyrant. " 

In  considering  the  Eodentiae,  what  are  the  chief  points  of  difference 
between  the  Sciurus  Carolinensis  and  the  Mus  Musculus? 

Any  one  of  the  last  set  of  questions  furnishes  food  for  con- 
siderable reflection  even  for  adults.  The  ability  to  cope  with 
problems  such  as  these  and  to  respond  to  them  adequately  is  a 
resultant  of  the  educative  process.  There  must  be  some  ques- 
tions stimulating  reflection  introduced  into  daily  class  exercises 
if  our  pupils  are  ever  to  grow  in  ability  to  reflect. 

II.     A  good  question  should  be  adapted  to  the  experience  of 

the  pupils. 

One  element  to  be  considered  in  making  a  fair  estimate  of  the 
question  is  its  adaptability  to  the  experiences  of  the  one  ques- 
tioned. By  way  of  illustration  of  this  point,  I  will  quote  a 
class-room  experience.  The  following  question  was  proposed 
to  a  group  of  college  students  for  over-night  reflection :  "  Is 
the  number  of  questions  asked  by  the  teacher  a  test  of  good 

It  seemed  to  be  a  good  question  for  mature  and  thoughtful 
people  preparing  for  the  teaching  profession — a  question  that 
would  plough  rather  deeply  into  experience  and  promote  some 

The  Quality  of  Questions  77 

serious  reflection.  As  one  section  of  the  class  assembled  next 
day,  the  question  was  repeated  and  the  following  answers  strag- 
gled in :  "I  don't  think  so."  "  Yes,  I  believe  it  is."  "  Too 
many  questions  show  bad  teaching."  "  Sometimes  teachers  do 
not  ask  questions  enough,"  etc.,  sufficient  to  show  that  the  ques- 
tion had  not  gripped  the  thought  life  of  any  member  of  the  class. 
What  is  the  inference  regarding  the  nature  of  the  question?  It 
was  designed  to  stimulate  reflection  but  it  failed  of  its  accom- 
plishment. Instead  of  getting  into  the  ground  it  failed  even 
to  scratch  the  surface. 

Another  section  of  the  class  met  later  in  the  day  and  the 
question  was  again  presented.  A  student  took  the  initiative 
promptly,  saying:  "I  wish  to  discuss  that  question;  I  have 
thought  of  it  for  some  time  and  I  have  reached  these  conclu- 
sions : 

First :  the  number  of  questions  is  not  a  criterion  of  good  or 

bad  teaching. 
Second:  the  mere  fact  of  number  does  not  give  sufficient 

data  upon  which  to  base  a  decision. 
Third :  the  quality  of  the  leading  questions  must  be  known 

before  even  the  number  can  be  criticized." 
Everyone  was  ready  for  the  discussion  which  was  generally 
thoughtful  and  profitable.  The  question  had  ploughed  into  the 
ground  quite  thoroughly  and  stirred  up  processes  of  thought 
activity  that  did  not  cease  even  with  the  dismissal  of  the  class. 
There  was  no  doubt  regarding  the  value  of  the  question  for  that 

The  explanation  of  the  different  attitude  of  the  two  groups 
was  found  in  the  fact  that  the  first  section  consisted  of  college 
seniors  who  had  never  taught  and  they  had  little  or  nothing  to 
draw  upon  in  the  way  of  experience  in  such  matters,  while  the 
second  section  included  men  and  women  in  the  forefront  of 
their  profession.  This  is  an  instance  where  one  question  had 
to  be  judged  both  a  poor  question  and  a  good  one:  poor  where 
it  was  not  adapted  to  the  group,  and  good  where  it  fitted  exactly 
into  experience. 

A  question,  then,  cannot  be  tested  as  an  intellectual  thing  apart 
from  the  group  to  which  it  is  addressed :  to  be  a  good  question 
it  must  be  rightly  related  to  experience  in  order  to  promote 
profitable  reflection. 

78      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

III.     A   good   question   should   draw  forth   a   well   rounded 


A  third  element  in  estimating  the  worth  of  a  question  is  its 
"  motor-power  "  in  drawing  forth  a  complete  thought.  The  ex- 
pression of  the  thought  should  be  commensurate  with  the  com- 
pleteness of  the  thought. 

A  lecturer  may  propose  a  question  to  a  group  of  adults  with 
such  effect  that  some  of  his  hearers  will  carry  it  away  with  them 
and  live  with  it  for  days  or  weeks  without  giving  expression  to 
the  thoughts  aroused.  This  may  be  considered  the  highest  type 
of  question  if  it  stimulates  the  adult  mind  to  continued  activity. 
But  with  children  in  the  formative  period  we  cannot  expect  sus- 
tained concentration  without  frequent  responses.  Hence  we  ask 
simple  questions  and  compel  prompt  answers  in  order  to  keep 
attention  focused  upon  the  subject  in  hand.  When  we  ask  a 
question  calling  for  an  association  of  ideas,  we  have  no  way  of 
measuring  the  potency  of  the  question  except  by  the  answer. 
The  answer  must  fully  reflect  the  result  of  the  association  called 
for  or  else  we  are  in  danger  of  fostering  superficiality  where  we 
aim  to  develop  accuracy  and  thoroughness. 

Careless  and  inaccurate  answers  are  frequently  accepted.  This 
is  sometimes  due  to  ambiguity  in  the  phraseology  of  the  question ; 
sometimes  to  the  fact  that  a  question  is  too  difficult  to  elicit 
good  mental  reactions,  and  sometimes  to  a  teacher's  failure  to 
hold  the  question  in  attention  long  enough  for  thought  processes 
to  be  completed. 

In  illustration  of  the  first  type  of  question  that  must  naturally 
fail  to  evoke  satisfactory  expression  from  pupils,  I  quote  the 
following  assortment  of  questions,  each  of  which  readily  reveals 
its  particular  fault  in  form : 

What  was  the  greatest  achievement  of  Charlemagnet  What  title  did 
the  Pope  confer  upon  him!  (Double  question.) 

What  was  the  theorem  that  preceded  the  one  that  Mary  gave  last! 

Don't  you  think  the  language  was  hard  to  understandf 

Does  the  story  end  well  with  the  lovers  all  married  at  the  end!  (Answer 
embodied  in  the  question.) 

The  Saxons  occupied  all  that  country  between  Cologne  and  the  Elbe 
and  north  to  Bremen.  They  had  no  towns  or  roads  and  very  few  posses- 
sions so  they  could  move  easily  and  hide  themselves  away  easily.  Who 
conquered  themt 

The  Quality  of  Questions  79 

There  was  a  substance  in  the  glass  and  I  added  something  to  it, 
changing  its  color  to  ? 

By  way  of  illustration  of  the  point  that  a  question  is  some- 
times too  difficult  to  elicit  good  mental  reactions,  I  will  quote 
from  a  lesson  in  breadmaking: 

' '  When  I  put  the  bread  to  rise  this  morning,  I  wanted  it  to  rise  quickly. 
How  did  I  accomplish  it?  " 

The  answer  came,  "  You  put  it  in  a  place  between  70  and  90  degrees, 
for  it  to  rise/7  (A  good  answer.) 

Then  the  teacher  asked,  "  Tell  me  all  about  it,  the  setting  and  rising." 

Follow,  if  you  will,  the  reactions  of  the  group  to  this  question 
keeping  in  mind  that  we  are  expecting  to  learn  all  about  the 
setting  and  rising  of  bread. 

TEACHER:     Tell  me  all  about  it,  the  setting  and  rising. 

EDNA:  Yeast  is  one  cell  plant,  that  feeds  on  moisture, — feeds  on  sugar, 
and  when  it  reproduces  it  gives  off  carbon  dioxide  gas — 

TEACHER:  Is  she  really  answering  the  question?  Don't  tell  me  every- 
thing you  know  about  yeast, — just  answer  the  question.  What  was  the 
question,  class? 

PUPILS  :     If  you  wanted  it  to  rise  quickly,  what  should  you  do  ? 

TEACHER:  Did  the  fact  that  the  yeast  reproduced,  or  budded,  have 
anything  to  do  with  this,  or  did  she  tell  us  that  too  soon?  Begin  again, 

EDNA:  Put  in  a  place  between  70  and  90  degrees,  because  otherwise  it 
wouldn't  rise, — yeast  wouldn't  act. 

TEACHER:     How  does  the  yeast  make  the  bread  rise? 

ELAINE:  When  it  grows  it  gives  off  carbon  dioxide  gas,  and  that  makes 
the  bread  rise,  etc. 

The  question  "  Tell  me  all  about  it,  the  setting  and  the  rising  " 
was  presumably  designed  to  provoke  a  summary  of  the  processes, 
both  practical  and  scientific,  in  the  making  of  bread.  It  failed 
to  draw  a  complete  thought.  At  least  part  of  the  difficulty  in 
this  case  was  due  to  the  fact  that  the  scope  of  the  question  was 
too  great.  The  pupils  had  not  sufficient  power  of  organization  . 
to  give  spontaneously  a  full  answer  to  a  question  involving  so 
many  factors.  This  question  is  on  a  par  with  "  Compare  Cooper 
with  Scott  " ;  "  Compare  nitrogen  with  oxygen  " ;  "  Compare  the 
American  government  with  the  English," — types  of  all-embrac- 
ing questions  that  teachers  do  sometimes  ask  of  a  pupil,  ap- 
parently expecting  satisfactory  answers  to  be  gathered  up  in 
his  thought  world  and  expressed  in  suitable  form  within  thirty 

8o      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

The  nature  of  the  answer  that  the  teacher  draws  in  response 
to  a  question  of  this  sort  should  be  in  itself  sufficient  rebuke, 
the  bread  lesson  to  wit.  The  question,  "  Compare  Cooper  with 
Scott/'  once  brought  a  few  fragmentary  answers  thus :  "  Both 
were  writers  of  stories — yarns — one  was  an  Englishman  and  one 
an  American.  Scott  wrote  about  black  knights  and  Cooper  wrote 
about  red  Indians.  Cooper  told  the  truth  about  his  Indians,  but 
Scott  did  not  about  the  knights/'  Five  or  six  different  pupils 
contributed  to  this  "  composite "  answer.  The  fragments  in 
themselves  were  not  objectionable  but  the  answers  passed  as  a 
satisfactory  "  comparison  of  Cooper  and  Scott/'  and  each  one 
of  the  five  pupils  thought  he  had  answered  it.  It  is  through  such 
processes  as  these  that  we  pauperize  the  intellects  of  normal 
and  healthy-minded  children  who  should  be  questioned  accord- 
ing to  their  capacity  and  then  held  to  the  completion  of  the 
thought  called  for. 

In  the  same  lesson  on  breadmaking  there  are  two  questions 
that  seem  to  be  reasonably  good :  "  What  does  the  yeast  do  when 
it  doesn't  get  any  sugar?  "  and  "  If  yeast  doesn't  have  any  sugar 
to  feed  upon,  will  it  make  bread  rise?  "  Considered  apart  from 
their  answers  we  should  say  that  they  would  stimulate  a  degree 
of  reflection  and  that  they  are  adapted  to  the  work  of  high  school 
girls  studying  the  processes  of  breadmaking.  Now  read  them 
in  the  context. 

TEACHER:  Sometimes  we  use  no  sugar;  we  can  make  it  simply  water, 
flour,  salt  and  yeast;  what  does  the  yeast  do  when  it  doesn't  get  any 

PUPIL  :     Moisture. 

TEACHER:  If  yeast  doesn't  have  sugar  to  feed  upon,  will  it  make 
bread  rise? 

PUPIL:     Yes. 

TEACHER:     How  so? 

PUPIL  :     Warmth. 

Those  questions  were  well  designed  but  they  failed  of  fruition 
when  the  teacher  accepted  "  moisture  "  as  an  answer  to  the  first 
and  "  warmth  "  for  the  third.  The  answers  certainly  did  not 
reveal  completeness  of  thought.  I  believe  the  girls  had  sufficient 
experience  to  answer  accurately  and  fully,  but  these  haphazard 
words  were  accepted  and  consequently  the  questions  did  not 
function  as  they  should  in  drawing  forth  completed  thoughts.  In 

The  Quality  of  Questions  81 

this  instance  the  failure  of  the  question  to  do  its  work  was  not 
due  to  the  phraseology  of  the  question  nor  to  a  degree  of  com- 
prehensiveness that  was  beyond  them  but  rather  to  the  failure 
of  the  teacher  to  stay  with  her  question  until  the  pupils  gave 
the  time  and  attention  necessary  to  round  out  the  thought. 

In  all  these  illustrations  the  answers  were  inaccurate  or  incom- 
plete; the  reason  in  each  case  was  close  at  hand  in  the  nature 
of  the  question  or  in  its  treatment  in  the  hands  of  the  teacher. 
I  believe  therefore  that  we  have  not  the  full  measure  of  the 
efficiency  of  a  question  until  we  know  the  answer  that  is  given 
to  it.  The  answer  should  give  adequate  expression  of  a  well 
rounded  thought. 

With  the  above  mentioned  criteria  of  the  worth  of  a  question 
or  series  of  questions  as  a  guide,  I  will  gather  up  from  the 
various  manuscripts  some  of  the  questions  that  approximate  more 
or  less  closely  the  type  of  question  that  contributes  to  efficient 
instruction.  If  they  do  not  appear  to  the  reader  to  possess  any 
special  value  kindly  consider  that  I  am  quoting  the  best  I  can 

There  are  about  thirty  natural  questions  in  the  total  of  two 
thousand  in  the  stenographic  reports.  Some  of  them  were  asked 
by  the  teachers  when  they  wished  to  learn  whether  or  not  note 
books  were  ready,  etc.  A  few  were  asked  by  the  pupils  when 
they  really  wished  to  clear  up  a  doubtful  point,  as  with  the 
following : 

PUPIL:     Can  you  have  rhyme  in  blank  verse? 

PUPIL:     Wordsworth  was  not  trying  to  imitate  the  old  ballads  was  he? 

PUPIL:     Can't  the  ammonia  vapor  turn  back  into  a  liquid? 

TEACHER:  That  is  another  reasonable  question:  Can't  all  the  am- 
monia vapor  turn  back  into  a  liquid  as  it  cools  off?  The  only  trouble 
with  that  is,  I  shall  have  to  say  it  can't.  In  order  to  liquefy  ammonia 
gas  you  have  to  subject  it  to  a  little  pressure  and  very  low  temperature. 

PUPIL:     Isn't  it  lighter  than  air? 

TEACHER:     Yes,  it  is  lighter. 

PUPIL:  The  pressure  of  the  air  on  the  outside  is  greater  than  the 
ammonia  gas. 

TEACHER:  Yes,  but  supposing  the  ammonia  gas  was  under  the  same 
pressure  as  the  atmosphere,  what  sort  of  thing  would  happen? 

PUPIL:     Would  the  gas  dissolve? 

TEACHER  :     That  is  precisely  what  the  gas  does. 

The  two  lessons  referred  to  on  page  48  as  offering  something 
of  value  in  the  nature  of  certain  questions  deserve  some  con- 

82      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

sideration  here.     Lesson  III  is  quoted  at  length,  beginning  on 
page  33.    Lesson  V  is  printed  in  full  in  the  Appendix. 

The  introductory  question  in  the  portion  of  Lesson  III  quoted 
on  page  33  gets  away  from  the  text-book  and  yet  it  is  related 
to  the  work  in  hand.  The  idea  of  sequels  has  been  suggested. 
The  teacher  asks: 

"  What  do  you  think  of  sequels  as  a  rule  in  the  -writing  of  books? 
(No  answer.) 

The  teacher  endeavors  to  make  the  association  more  personal 
by  changing  the  form  of  her  question. 

"Are  any  of  your  favorite  stories  written  with  sequels?  "     (No  answer.) 
Still  more  personal, 

"  Mary,  do  you  recall  a  story  with  a  sequel?  "  (Mary  admits  she  does 
not  know  what  a  sequel  is.) 

"  Mary  is  bothered  by  the  word  sequel;  who  can  help  her  out?  What 
is  a  sequel?  " 

PUPIL:  A  sequel  is  a  book  that  has  the  same  characters  in,  and  comes 
after  the  other  one. 

TEACHER:  Did  you  get  enough  to  understand  it?  George  says  a 
sequel  is  a  book  that  has  the  same  characters  in  and  comes  after  the 
first  story.  Now,  do  you  know  any  sequel;  have  you  read  a  book  with  a 

Now  that  the  obscurity  regarding  the  meaning  of  "  sequel  "  is 
cleared  away  there  is  profitable  reflection  and  there  is  fullness 
of  expression.  (See  page  33.) 

From  the  Marmion  lesson  in  the  Appendix  the  first  question, 
although  primarily  a  memory  question,  requires  a  degree  of 
reflection  in  selecting  from  memory  the  parts  to  be  given 
"  omitting  all  unnecessary  details."  Some  of  the  remaining  ques- 
tions intended  to  stimulate  reflection  are  the  following: 

Name  all  the  things  that  you  can  think  of  in  Marmion  that  are  char- 
acteristic of  the  Middle  Ages. 

What  were  the  ideals  of  the  knights  of  that  period? 
Have  you  read  stories  of  other  knights  besides  Marmion? 
Who  is  the  most  interesting  knight  you  have  ever  read  about? 
Do  you  think  Marmion  was  a  true  knight? 
Do  you  consider  Marmion  the  hero  of  the  poem? 

In  mathematics  work  the  type  of  question  that  stimulates  reflec- 
tion is  illustrated  in  the  algebra  lesson  reported  in  the  TEACHERS 
COLLEGE  RECORD.  It  is  a  development  lesson  upon  the  use  of 

The  Quality  of  Questions  83 

graphs  in  solution  of  simultaneous  equations.     A  short  block 
of  questions  is  inadequate  to  show  anything  of  content  values 
for  a  developmental  lesson,  but  they  may  serve  to  show  that  the% 
pupils  are  expected  to  make  careful  discriminations  and  render 
decisions  at  each  step  of  the  development  and  its  application. 

TEACHER:     If  I  should  take  x  =  2y4:,  could  you  find  a  pair  of  values, 
Miss  C.f 

PUPIL:     Yes,  y  =  2%. 

TEACHER:     Will  you  represent  the  pair  for  me,  x  =  21/4,  y  =  2%;  where 

PUPIL:     I  should  say  about  the  same  place.     (At  the  board.) 
TEACHER:     Let  me  see  where  you  think  that  place  is. 
PUPIL:     How  did  this  go  (referring  to  a  point  previously  placed)  —  out 
this  way? 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

PUPIL  :     x  =  2%  would  be  about  here. 

TEACHER:     That  is  right,  thank  you,  etc. 

Some  single  questions  selected  at  random  from  the  stenographic 
reports  to  illustrate  a  measure  of  reflection  are  the  following: 

TEACHER:  Turn  to  the  next  ballad,  —  Lady  Clare,  —  would  that  have 
pleased  the  old  ballad  writers? 

PUPIL:  I  think  it  would  have;  it  is  just  the  kind  of  love  story  they 
liked,  —  it  all  turned  out  well. 

TEACHER:  What  do  you  think  sterling  qualities  of  mind  means  here? 
(Answer  in  full  on  page  60.) 

TEACHER:     How  does  the  next  step  verify  that? 
PUPIL:     It  turned  the  litmus  from  red  to  blue. 

TEACHER:     What  quality  goes  with  timidity  as  a  rule?! 
PUPIL  :     Shyness. 

TEACHER:  Which  do  you  think  had  the  more  military  subject  (for  his 
writings)  Thucydides  or  Xenophon? 

TEACHER:     Was  it  more  real? 

TEACHER:     Was  it  worth  while? 

TEACHER:     What  quality  that  we  mentioned  does  that  illustrate? 

TEACHER:     How  did  it  make  the  Greeks  feel  to  conquer  the  Persians? 

PUPIL:     Very  proud. 

TEACHER:     Very  proud.     There  is  a  better  word  than  that. 

PUPIL  :     Vain. 

TEACHER:     I  think  I  should  not  say  vain. 

PUPIL  :     Satisfied. 

84      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:     Isn't  there  a  better  expression! 

PUPIL:     Independent. 

TEACHER:     That  is  good,  independent,  but  there  is  still  a  better  one. 

PUPIL  :     Self-confident. 

TEACHER:     That  is  just  what  I  wanted— self-confident. 

TEACHER:  Is  Lord  Ullin's  Daughter  the  kind  of  story  you  think  would 
appeal  to  ancient  writers? 

PUPIL:  It  seems  so;  this  one  was  about  an  elopement;  they  seem  to 
write  that  kind  of  story. 

TEACHER:  Now  was  that  something  to  be  desired  that  Europe  should 
be  saved  from  Mohammedanism? 

If  I  collected  all  the  questions  stimulating  reflection  I  might 
have  between  two  and  three  hundred  from  the  total  of  two  thous- 
and, but  a  large  number  of  them  would  be  the  kind  represented 
by  "  What  do  you  think,  John?  "  "  What  other  quality,  Mary  ?  " 
"Have  you  a  criticism  on  that  point,  Margaret?" 

Of  the  type  of  good  question  that  compels  association  of  ideas 
by  calling  for  a  comparison  of  two  things  there  are  only  twenty 
in  the  entire  group,  ten  of  the  twenty  in  one  English  lesson  (the 
lesson  on  comparison  of  old  and  new  ballads).  Teachers  are 
evidently  doing  little  to  invite  or  to  compel  direct  associations. 
Of  the  type  of  question  that  calls  for  the  degree  of  intensity  of 
reflection  demanded  by  College  Entrance  and  Regents'  questions, 
I  find  very  few  indeed.  For  the  best  of  these  see  the  Marmion 
lesson  in  the  Appendix,  and  the  scattered  English  lessons.  No 
wonder  that  an  examination  hour  becomes  an  ordeal,  if  it  calls 
into  use  abilities  that  have  had  no  exercise  in  class  work. 

Of  memory  questions  I  have  made  no  mention.  Pure  memory 
questions  are  good  questions  to  use  occasionally,  but  the  element 
of  memory  is  included  in  all  better  questions.  Why  then  ask 
a  half  dozen  pure  memory  questions  when  one  better  question 
can  be  made  to  embody  memory  and  at  the  same  time  call  for 
association  in  memory,  and  some  exercise  of  judgment? 

If  teachers  would  embody  in  their  scheme  for  the  presenta- 
tion of  every  lesson  a  very  few  thought-provoking  questions 
(not  more  than  six  or  eight  probably), — questions  based  on  the 
lesson  and  calling  for  associations  and  discriminations  and  weigh- 
ing of  values, — they  would  of  necessity  embody  the  salient  facts 

The  Quality  of  Questions  85 

of  the  lesson.  It  would  not  be  necessary  to  "  hear  "  the  facts, 
paragraph  after  paragraph. 

The  best  part  of  a  lesson  plan  is  its  backbone  of  questions 
(unfortunately  not  often  included  in  the  plan).  If  they  are  good 
questions  they  will  incorporate  teacher's  aims  and  pupils'  aims, 
ultimate  aims  and  immediate  aims.  If  all  the  rest  of  the  plan 
is  perfect  and  its  backbone  of  questions  is  weak,  little  need  be 
expected  for  efficiency  in  instruction. 

It  is  difficult  to  get  teachers  to  work  out  a  few  questions  for 
the  backbone  of  a  lesson,  for  the  reason  that  it  is  much  easier 
for  them  to  ask  a  number  of  questions  than  it  is  to  organize 
subject  matter  and  definitely  determine  the  mounts  of  promi- 
nence for  any  lesson. 

I  believe  that  the  remedy  for  many  of  the  present  evils  of 
instruction  lies  in  the  improvement  of  our  methods  of  questioning. 

The  aims  of  any  school  for  the  education  of  the  streams  of 
pupils  passing  through  its  doors  year  after  year  must  be  meas- 
ured by  the  kind  of  work  carried  on  in  its  individual  class  rooms. 

There  are  established  ideals  of  education  for  secondary  schools 
and  there  are  established  ideals  for  the  conduct  of  the  recita- 
tion. Even  if  these  ideals  are  not  wholly  in  accord  with  the 
most  advanced  theories  guiding  the  practice  of  elementary 
schools,  they  are  nevertheless  worthy  ideals.  Furthermore,  they 
are  possible  of  realization. 

A  fairly  characteristic  study  of  secondary  class-room  practice 
shows  us  that  the  highest  aims  of  education  and  the  highest 
ideals  of  instruction  are  not  in  evidence  to  any  appreciable  extent. 
They  are  reserved  apparently  for  catalogue  embellishment  and 
for  convention  oratory.  Who  is  responsible  for  the  chasm  that 
exists  between  aims  and  practices  in  these  schools  ?  I  believe  the 
responsibility  must  first  of  all  be  shouldered  by  the  supervising 
officer,  whether  he  is  the  superintendent  in  a  small  system,  or 
the  principal  in  a  large  system,  or  the  specially  appointed  super- 
visor. There  must  be  unity  of  purpose  first  of  all :  then  there 
must  be  supervision  of  instruction. 

No  school  system  would  for  an  instant  allow  an  inexperienced 
clerk  to  manage  its  financial  affairs  without  supervision — but  it 
does  frequently  happen  that  novices  in  the  teaching  profession, 
fresh  from  college,  are  permitted  to  undertake  the  realization 
of  the  educational  aims  of  the  school,  through  the  medium  of 

86      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

Latin,  English,  or  history,  with  no  professional  preparation  and 
little  or  no  class-room  supervision.  If  the  energies  of  superin- 
tendent or  principal  are  consumed  by  the  administrative  duties 
of  a  school  or  system,  there  should  be  another  officer  of  equal 
or  superior  rank  to  devote  himself  exclusively  to  supervision  of 

In  the  matter  of  questioning  alone,  a  supervisor  could  accom- 
plish much  for  instruction  in  a  very  short  time  if  he  did  nothing 
more  than  to  insist  upon  introducing  into  the  plan  of  every 
lesson  a  short  series  of  related  questions  calling  for  reflection.  The 
results  that  might  reasonably  be  expected  are  substantially  these : 
Where  six  or  eight  purposeful  questions  are  asked  and  ade- 
quately answered,  the  number  of  questions  will  be  reduced;  the 
pace  will  become  more  normal;  pupils  will  be  forced  to  tie  up 
their  facts  in  profitable  relations ;  the  several  questions  will 
serve  as  high  lights  in  the  lesson;  pupils  will  have  practice  in 
the  habit  of  studying  a  lesson  for  the  salient  points ;  they,  will 
eventually  grow  into  the  habit  of  organizing  subject  matter  for 
themselves.  With  such  attainments  as  these  we  should  have 
some  positive  factors  to  deal  with  in  measuring  efficiency  of  in- 
struction, and  a  definite  basis  for  further  constructive  work. 

At  present,  there  is  serious  need  of  intelligent  study  and  care- 
ful supervision  of  the  use  of  the  question  as  a  medium  of  instruc- 
tion. Skillful  supervision  of  questioning  will  of  necessity  force 
unification  of  aims,  better  organization  of  subject  matter,  more 
consistent  methods  of  instruction,  and  more  rational  practice,  for 
these  all  stand  revealed  in  the  teacher's  questions. 



TEACHER:  Will  someone  give  the  story  of  Marmion,  omitting  all  un- 
necessary details?  Dorothy? 

DOROTHY:  Marmion  was  riding  toward  Scotland  with  his  train;  he 
was  going  there  partly,  I  think,  to  delay  the  war  Scotland  was  preparing 
for  England,  and  partly  to  find  out  the  cause  of  it;  and  as  he  rode  along 
he  came  to  Norham  Castle,  and  there  he  stopped  with  his  train,  and 
they  spent  an  evening  there,  and  while  he  was  there  Sir  William  Heron 
asked  him  where  the  page  was  that  had  been  with  him  the  last  time, 
or  whether  he  was  only  a  lady-love;  and  Marmion  asked  Sir  William  Heron 
where  his  wife  was,  and  he  said,  in  King  James'  Court,  for  ladies  do  not 
like  to  stay  at  home  all  the  time;  next  morning  they  started  out  again, 
with  the  Palmer  as  a  guide.  In  the  meantime  it  tells  about  some  nuns 
who  were  going  to  a  monastery  to  try  the  case  of  a  nun  who  had  broken 
her  vows.  In  the  monastery  there  were  three  judges  and  this  girl,  who 
was  dressed  as  a  page,  and  who  tried  to  hide  a — sort  of  label — I  don't 
know  what  to  call  it — that  showed  she  had  been  in  Marmion 's  train — 

TEACHER:     Can  anyone  supply  the  word? 

PUPIL:     It  was  Marmion 's  crest  that  she  had  on. 

DOROTHY:  And  one  of  the  monks  there  took  down  her  hair,  and  it 
was  all  beautiful  round  her  pale  face.  She  asked  to  be  able  to  tell  her 
own  story,  and  she  told  how  Marmion  had  come  there  and  wooed  her,  and 
had  taken  her  from  the  monastery  and  she  rode  as  a  horseboy  in  his 
train  for  three  years,  and  then  he  met  another  girl  whom  he  thought 
more  fair,  and  had  rich  lands,  and  Constance  was  loved  no  more,  and 
she  was  very  sad  at  this,  but  Clare,  who  was  the  girl  that  Marmion  loved 
now,  had  another  lover  whose  name  was  Ralph  De  Wilton,  and  Marmion 
accuses  De  Wilton  of  treason,  so  that  they  come  into  the  lists  to  fight, 
and  Ealph  De  Wilton  was  overthrown,  and  Marmion  would  have  married 
Clare,  but  Clare  had  fled  to  the  monastery.  In  the  meantime  Constance 
was  taken  by  a  monk,  who  said  he  would  take  care  of  her,  but  who 
betrayed  her  and  took  her  to  the  monastery,  and  she  was  built  into  the 
walls  and  left  to  die  there,  and  the  nuns  went  back  to  England,  and  on 
the  way  they  were  captured  by  a  Scottish  vessel  and  kept  in  Scotland, 
and  then  sent  back  in  charge  of  Marmion.  Then  it  goes  on  to  tell  about 


88      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:  That  will  do  so  far,  Dorothy.  Any  criticism?  Did  she  leave 
out  any  essential  points? 

PUPIL:  She  left  out  the  bundle  of  papers  that  Constance  gave  to  the 

TEACHER:     That  comes  later. 

PUPIL:     Constance  forged  the  letters. 

TEACHER:     Yes,  that  is  true. 

PUPIL:     And  wasn't  one  of  those  nuns  Clare? 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

PUPIL:  And  Castle  Norham  is  on  the  borderline  between  Scotland  and 

TEACHER  :  Yes.  Go  on  from  that  point,  and  omit  all  details  that  are  not 
necessary.  Beatrice?  She  left  Marmion  having  started  from  the  Castle. 

BEATRICE:  He  started  from  the  Castle,  and  after  he  left  Norham 
Castle  he  arrived  that  evening  in  an  inn  where  he  and  his  retinue  stayed. 
While  he  was  there,  at  Norham  Castle — he  asked  for  a  guide,  and  a 
Palmer  was  given,  and  they  started  off,  and  the  Palmer  guided  him  to 
this  inn,  and  while  they  were  there  the  Palmer  cast  gloomy  looks  over  the 
party,  and  a  young  man  was  asked  to  sing,  and  he  said  he  couldn't  sing 
as  well  as  Constant,  as  they  called  Constance  de  Beverley,  the  page.  That 
night  the  host  told  a  tale,  and  Marmion  didn't  like  it, — it  was,  if  you 
went  to  a  certain  castle,  you  met  your  enemy,  and  that  night  he  could  not 
rest,  and  one  of  his  squires  was  sleeping  in  the  hay  in  the  barn,  and 
he  waked  him  and  told  him  he  had  been  thinking  about  this  tale,  and 
he  wanted  to  go  to  this  castle  and  see  what  would  happen,  and  he  went 
and  met  there  a  man  with  whom  he  fought,  and  when  he  came  back  it 
was  found  in  the  morning  that  another  horse  had  been  ridden,  and  one 
of  the  horses  died. 

TEACHER:     Carl? 

CARL:  I  don't  think  he  went  to  a  castle  at  all.  The  host  toM  the 
story  about  the  king  of  Scotland,  and  he  went  to  find  out — and  Marmion 
went  out,  and  the  man,  or  rather  the  ghost  as  Marmion  called  it,  was  there. 

TEACHER:     He  was  his  worst  enemy. 

PUPIL:  Yes;  and  in  the  morning  they  blamed  the  Palmer  for  that, 
that  he  myst  have  had  something  to  do  with  it. 

TEACHER:     Marion? 

MARION:  "When  his  enemy  was  going  to  kill  him,  he  prayed  to  St. 
George,  so  his  enemy  didn't  kill  him. 

TEACHER:  I  am  going  to  ask  someone,  just  in  a  few  words,  to  tell 
the  main  results  of  the  story.  Carlton,  you  tell. 

CARLTON:  When  Marmion  went  to  the  Court,  he  went  to  see  King 
James,  and  he  couldn't  see  him  right  off,  and  he  sent  him  to  Castle 
Tantallon,  where  Angus  Douglas  lived,  and  he  stayed  there  several  days, 
and  when  he  left  he  wanted  to  shake  hands  with  Douglas,  but  Douglas 
would  not  do  it,  and  said  that  his  castles  and  nil  liis  lands  were  his  king's, 
but  his  hand  was  his  own,  and  he  never  would  shake  with  Marmion,  and 
Marmion  was  very  angry,  and  he  said  any  messengers,  no  matter  how 
mean,  who  were  sent  there  by  England,  they  were  Douglas's  equal,  and 

Stenographic  Lesson  Report  89 

if  he  said  Marmion  was  not  equal  to  any  lord  in  Scotland,  he  lied,  and 
Douglas  said  he  should  not  get  away  without  being  punished  for  saying 
that,  and  he  called  to  the  guards  to  put  up  the  drawbridge,  but  Marmion 
put  the  spurs  to  his  horse,  and  got  through  the  gateway  and  then  went 
to  England. 

PUPIL:  Went  to  James '  Court  first,  and  on  his  way  back  he  stopped 
at  this  castle,  and  he  came  back  with  these  nuns  and  took  Clare  away 
from  them  and  kept  her  with  him,  and  then  they  had  the  battle  at  Flodden 
Field,  but  before  that  he  knew  that  Ealph  De  Wilton  was  the  Palmer. 

TEACHER:     That  is  not  very  clear;  anyone  clear  that  up?    Edward? 

EDWARD:  After  he  had  left  the  castle  where  Douglas  was,  he  noticed 
that  the  Palmer  was  not  with  them,  and  one  man  said  he  had  seen  the 
Palmer  riding  off  in  armor,  and  he  wouldn't  believe  it,  and  Marmion 
knew  who  the  Palmer  was,  and  going  on  to  Flodden  Field  Marmion  gives 
the  battle-cry,  and  starts  off  and  leaves  Clare  in  charge  of  two  young 
knights,  and  charges  to  the  head  of  the  army  and  fights  very  bravely. 

TEACHER:     A  very  few  words. 

EDWARD:  Marmion 's  horse  comes  back  without  a  rider,  and  this  young 
knight  carries  him  back,  and  he  is  dying  and  asks  for  water,  and  Clare 
brings  him  some,  and  he  asks  about  Constance,  and  she  tells  him  that 
she  is  dead,  and  he  says  some  words,  "  Charge,  Chester —  " 

TEACHER:     What  was  that  he  said? 

PUPIL:     "  Charge  Chester,  charge!      On,  Stanley,  on!  " 

TEACHER:     There  is  another  part  that  has  been  left  out  altogether. 

EDWARD:  And  then  Ealph  De  Wilton  goes  in  and  fights  very  bravely, 
and  gains  back  all  his  lands,  and  finally  marries  Clare. 

TEACHER  :     Margaret  ? 

MARGARET  :  He  left  out  that  the  abbess  had  told  Ralph  De  Wilton  about 
the  forged  letters. 

TEACHER:  Name  all  the  things  you  can  think  of  in  Marmion  that  are 
characteristic  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

PUPIL:     The  feuds. 

TEACHER:     What  do  you  mean  ~by  that? 

PUPIL:  The  system  of  retainers  belonging  to  the  lands,  and  the  lands 
belonging  to  the  nobles  and  the  nobles  belonging  to  the  king. 

EDWARD:  You  could  tell  because  when  Marmion  said  that  Ealph  De 
Wilton  had  done  something,  they  had  a  duel,  which  they  would  not  do 
in  these  days;  tournaments;  and  during  the  conversation  you  can  tell 
it  was  ancient  times — and  they  don't  have  Palmers  now-a-days — and  they 
fought  with  spears  and  shields. 

TEACHER:  You  spoke  of  the  tournament;  what  thing  was  settled  in  that 
tournament  between  Ealph  De  Wilton  and  Marmion? 

PUPIL:  Whether  Ealph  De  Wilton  had  really  committed  treason  against 
the  king. 

TEACHER:  Did  they  believe  that  a  tournament  could  possibly  settle  a 
question  of  right  and  wrong? 

PUPIL:     They  thought  that  God  would  spare  the  one  in  the  right. 

90      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:  Any  other  things  you  can  think  of  the  author  brought  into 
this  poem  to  show  it  was  the  Middle  Ages? 

PUPIL:     The  castles  he  visited  all  along  the  road. 

TEACHER:     Anything  else? 

PUPIL:  The  drawbridges,  and  the  way  he  was  entertained  at  those 

PUPIL:  And  all  around  the  castles  they  had  high  walls,  and  a  body  of 
water  all  around. 

TEACHER:     Something  else? 

PUPIL:  You  could  tell  by  the  kings  of  that  time,  James  the  IV,  and 
Henry  the  VIII,  and  the  Battle  of  Flodden  Field. 

TEACHER:  What  things  does  Scott  bring  into  this  poem  that  make  you 
feel  that  it  is  Middle  Ages  and  warlike  time?  All  these  things  you  have 
mentioned,  castles,  tournaments,  etc.,  show  it  wasn't  that. 

PUPIL:     They  had  a  portcullis. 

TEACHER:     The  castles  were  well  guarded. 

PUPIL:     The  way  of  travel  in  those  days. 

TEACHER:  And  they  had  a  guard,  you  remember,  for  protection.  There 
was  great  danger  for  Marmion  in  going  through  that  country.  For  whom 
was  he  constantly  looking  out,  what  people? 

PUPIL:  The  robbers  on  the  borderland;  if  they  were  in  England,  they 
were  not  in  Scottish  territory,  and  if  they  were  in  Scotland,  they  were 
not  on  English  territory. 

TEACHER:  What  other  characteristics  of  the  age  have  we,  one  you 
have  not  mentioned,  very  important?  (Refers  to  picture  upon  wall  cf 
class  room.) 

PUPILS:     The  monasteries  and  the  monks. 

TEACHER:  The  influence  the  Church  had  at  that  time.  Do  you  know 
what  Church  was  in  England  at  that  time? 

PUPIL:     Eoman  Catholic. 

TEACHER  :  Eoman  Catholic  Church.  What  were  the  ideals  of  the  knights 
of  that  period? 

PUPIL:     They  must  be  brave,  fight  well,  ride  well,  and  be  faithful. 

TEACHER:     Anything  else? 

PUPIL:  They  must  always  be  loyal  to  their  king,  and  help  anyone  in 

TEACHER:  These  were  the  chief  points.  Have  you  read  any  stories  of 
any  other  knights  besides  Marmion? 

PUPIL:     Sir  Launfal,  Ivanhoe. 

PUPIL:     All  the  stories  of  the  Bound  Table. 

PUPIL:     Parsifal. 

TEACHER:     Does  that  belong  to  this  period? 

PUPIL:     A  little  earlier. 

TEACHER:  Still,  you  have  read  about  knights  and  their  ideals;  any  other 

PUPIL:     Sir  Nigel. 

TEACHER:     Who  is  the  most  interesting  knight  you  have  read  about? 

PUPIL  :     Ivanhoe. 

Stenographic  Lesson  Report  91 

TEACHER:     Ton  liked  that  "best?    How  many  do? 


TEACHER:  A  good  story  of  a  very  interesting  knight.  Do  you  think 
Marmion  was  a  true  Tcnight? 


PUPIL:  I  think  he  was  as  far  as  fighting  and  braveness  were  concerned, 
but  when  he  put  Clare  in  prison, — I  don't  think  that  showed  a  good  spirit. 

TEACHER:     Why  did  he  put  Clare  in  prison? 

PUPIL:  I  mean  Constance — he  wanted  to  marry  Clare,  and  he  put  Con- 
stance in  prison  to  get  her  out  of  the  way. 

TEACHER:     Did  he  put  her  in  there  expecting  she  would  ~be  killed? 

PUPIL  :     No. 

TEACHER:     Tour  opinion,  Arthur? 

ARTHUR:     He  was  worse  when  he  forged  the  letters. 

TEACHER:  Tou  think  that  was  the  greatest  wrong  that  he  did?  How 
many  agree? 

PUPILS  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  He  simply  felt  that  Constance  would  be  taken  care  of  in  that 
monastery.  Do  you  consider  him  the  hero  of  the  poem? 

PUPIL:     I  do,  yes;  because  it  is  mostly  about  him. 

TEACHER:  Well,  you  say  he  is  a  man  guilty  of  treason,  and  he  certainly 
didn't  protect  the  weak, — not  a  hero  in  that  respect. 

DOROTHY:  I  think  the  hero  in  a  book  ought  to  be  a  very  good  man, 
and  I  think  the  man  Scott  has  in  mind  to  be  the  hero  is  Ealph  De  Wilton. 

TEACHER:     Tour  opinion,  Bruce? 

BRUCE:  I  think  Ealph  De  Wilton  is  the  hero  in  a  way, — I  think 
Marmion  is  a  sort  of  hero, — toward  the  end  Marmion  is,  and  Ealph  De 
Wilton  in  the  beginning. 

TEACHER:     Which  one  triumphs  in  the  end? 

PUPIL:     I  think  Marmion, — I  mean  Ealph  De  Wilton. 

TEACHER:     Tour  opinion,  Carl? 

CARL:  I  think  Marmion;  he  wasn't  a  hero  through  the  book,  but  I 
think  if  he  could  have  revived  after  he  had  been  hurt,  he  would  have 
been  a  good  man;  he  was  sorry  when  he  heard  about  Constance. 

TEACHER:     Ed? 

ED:  I  think  he  is,  it  is  a  sort  of  an  English  knight;  I  don't  judge  a 
man  by  whether  he  is  good  or  not, — the  chief  man  in  the  book. 

PUPIL:  It  tells  more  about  Marmion  than  Ealph  De  Wilton,  but  I 
don't  think  he  is  the  hero. 

TEACHER:     Tou  consider  EalpJi  De  Wilton  the  hero? 

PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Tou  think  it  was  the  times  rather  than  the  man  himself? 

PUPILS  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:  That  is  perfectly  true;  I  must  confess  I  think  the  story  is 
a  little  weak  in  that  point,— it  is  called  Marmion,  but  the  one  who  triumphs, 
really  is  Ealph  De  Wilton. 

PUPIL  :     The  most  part  of  it  is  about  Marmion. 

92      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER  :     Yes. 

PUPIL:  — So  I  think  you  could  consider  the  book  well  named. 
TEACHER:  That  is  perfectly  true,  but  there  is  that  other  criticism  that 
Marmion  himself  is  not  the  one  who  triumphs;  it  is  the  overthrow,  really, 
of  Marmion,  who  represents  the  evil,  and  Ealph  De  Wilton  the  good. 
Someone  spoke  of  the  worst  thing  he  did,  which  was  treason;  does  anyone 
think  that  in  that  time  forgery  was  rather  out  of  harmony? 

PUPIL:  I  don't  think  he  would  have  done  it  in  anything  else;  I  think 
he  thought — that  he  knew  Clare  liked  Ealph  better  than  she  did  him,  and 
she  wanted  to  get  him  out  of  the  way. 

TEACHER:  The  author  was  very  consistent  in  putting  his  whole  story 
in  the  Middle  Ages,  and  that  one  point  of  forgery  was  rather  a  com- 
mercial point.  What  do  you  consider  the  real  weakness  in  Marmion's 

PUPIL:  He  wanted  to  be  so  great  himself;  he  wanted  everything; — and 
Constance  didn't  have  any  lands  and  Clare  did,  so  he  wanted  to  marry 
her,  and  he  forged  the  letters. 

PUPIL:     His  weakness  was  in  how  he  loved  people. 
TEACHER:     What  do  you  mean  exactly? 

PUPIL:  At  first  he  loved  Constance,  and  Clare  came  along,  and  he  liked 
her  because  she  had  lands. 

TEACHER:     He  really  always  loved  Constance,  didn't  he? 
PUPIL:     His  pride  and  self -conceit, — and  in  the  second  place  he  thinks 
he  is  greater  than  Ealph  De  Wilton  so  Clare  should  like  him  better;  he 
says :     ' '  I  am  this  wonderful  knight — . ' ' 

TEACHER:  His  conceit,  his  ambition  is  really  the  thing  that  proves  his 
downfall.  I  asked  you  to  select  any  stanzas  that  you  considered  particu- 
larly good  on  account  of  the  color.  Did  you  find  one?  The  canto  and  the 
stanza?  Dorothy? 

DOROTHY:     Canto  I,  stanza  I. 
TEACHER:     Bead  it  out  loud. 

DOROTHY:     "Along  the  bridge  Lord  Marmion  rode, 
Proudly  his  red-roan  charger  trode, 
His  helm  hung  at  the  saddle-bow; 
Well  by  his  visage  you  might  know 
He  was  a  stalwart  knight  and  keen, 
And  had  in  many  a  battle  been; 
The  scar  on  his  brown  cheek  reveal  'd 
A  token  true  of  Bosworth  field; 
His  eyebrow  dark,  and  eye  of  fire, 
Show'd  spirit  proud,  and  prompt  to  ire; 
Yet  lines  of  thought  upon  his  cheek 
Did  deep  design  and  counsel  speak, 
His  forehead,  by  his  casque  worn  bare, 
His  thick  moustache  and  curly  hair, 
Coal-black,  and  grizzled  here  and  there, 

Stenographic  Lesson  Report 


But  more  through  toil  than  age; 
His  square- turn 'd  joints,  and  strength  of  limb, 
Show'd  him  no  carpet  knight  so  trim, 
But  in  close  fight  a  champion  grim, 

In  camps  a  leader  sage/' 

TEACHER:     That  is  a  very  good  description  of  Marmion  there,  but  has 
it  much  color? 

DOROTHY  :     I  think  it  has. 
TEACHER:     What  part? 
DOROTHY:     His  appearance,  his  face — - 
TEACHER:     Was  bright? 
DOROTHY:     No  it  was  dark. 

TEACHER:     7s  that  the  color?    I  think  that  is  a  capital  description,  but 
I  don't  think  there  is  much  color  in  it. 

DOROTHY:     I  didn't  find  any  stanza  I  thought  was  any  better. 

TEACHER  :     Margaret  ? 

MARGARET  :     I  took  Canto  IV,  and  stanza  XXVIII. 

TEACHER:     Just  read  that  part  of  it  that  has  a  good  deal  of  color  in  it. 

MARGARET:     It  is  all  through  the  stanza: 

Nor  mark'd  they  less,  where  in  the  air 
A  thousand  streamers  flaunted  fair; 
Various  in  shape,  device  and  hue, 
Green,  sanguine,  purple,  red  and  blue, 
Broad,  narrow,  swallow-tail 'd,  and  square, 
Scroll,  pennon,  pencil,  bandrol,  there 

O'er  the  pavilion  flew. 
Highest  and  midmost  was  descried 
The  royal  banner  floating  wide; 

The  staff,  a  pine  tree,  strong  and  straight, 
Pitched  deeply  in  a  massive  stone, 
Which  still  in  memory  is  shown, 

Yet  fcent  beneath  the  standard's  weight 
Whene'er  the  western  wind  unroll 'd 
With  toil,  the  huge  and  cumbrous  fold, 
And  gave  to  view  the  dazzling  field 
Where,  in  proud  Scotland's  royal  shield, 

The  ruddy  lion  ramp'd  in  gold. 
TEACHER:     A  good  deal  of  motion  in  that. 
MARGARET:     And  the  color  of  all  the  different  flags. 
TEACHER:     There  was  a  capital  description  right  after  the  one  you  read, 
Dorothy,  the  trappings  of  the  horses— 
PUPIL:     Yes,  I  think  it  was  light  blue. 

TEACHER:     Any  stanza  you  found  with  a  great  deal  of  action;  where 
would  you  look  to  find  a  stanza  with  a  great  deal  of  action? 
PUPIL:     At  the  end  of  the  book. 
TEACHER:     What  was  that? 
PUPIL:     Flodden  Field. 

94      The  Question  as  a  Measure  of  Efficiency  in  Instruction 

TEACHER:     Anyone  find  a  good  stanza  there?    Margaret? 
MARGARET:     There  was  a  good  deal  of  action  where  Marmion — 
TEACHER:     There  was  a  good  deal— 
PUPIL:     Where  he  dashes  over  the  drawbridge. 

TEACHER:     Yes;  any  in  the  battle?     Carlton?     Turn  to  the  class  and 
read  it  aloud. 

CARLTON:     At  length  the  freshening  western  blast 
Aside  the  shroud  of  battle  cast; 
And  first,  the  ridge  of  mingled  spears 
Above  the  brightening  cloud  appears; 
And  in  the  smoke  the  pennons  flew, 
As  in  the  storm  the  white  sea-mew. 
Then  mark'd  they,  dashing  broad  and  far, 
The  broken  billows  of  the  war, 
And  plumed  crests  of  chieftains  brave, 
Floating  like  foam  upon  the  wave; 

But  naught  distinct  they  see; 
Wide  raged  the  battle  on  the  plain! 
Spears  shook,  the  falchions  flash 'd  amain; 
Fell  England's  arrow-flight  like  rain; 
Crests  rose,  and  stoop  'd,  and  rose  again, 

Wild  and  disorderly. 

TEACHER:     That  is  very  good;  and  the  next  stanza,  in  the  -fight  itself; 
how  many  noticed  that? 

TEACHER:     What  passages  in  Marmion  are  quoted  frequently,  Anna? 
ANNA:     I  think  where  Marmion  says  good-bye  to  Douglas,  and  where 
Douglas  is  angry  because  Marmion  tells  him  that  he  has  lied. 

TEACHER:      Why  do  you  suppose  that  is  so  frequently  selected  to  be 
put  into  readers? 

PUPIL:     I  think  it  has  so  much  feeling  and  so  much  swing — 
TEACHER:     It  has  feeling  and  swing— 
PUPIL  :     Yes. 

TEACHER:     Any  other  reason?     How  many  can  just  see  those  two  men, 
Douglas  and  Marmion,  pitted  against  each  other?    Any  other? 
PUPIL:  O,  woman  in  our  hours  of  ease, 

Uncertain,  coy,  and  hard  to  please, 
And  variable  as  the  sfiade 
By  the  light  quivering  aspen  made; 
When  pain  and  anguish  wring  the  brow, 
A  ministering  angel  thou! 
TEACHER:     Do  you  believe  that? 
PUPIL  :     No. 

TEACHER:     I  don't  either;  it  may  have  been  true  at  that  time. 
PUPIL:     There  is  another,  where  Constance  says: 
And  come  he  slow,  or  come  he  fast, 
It  is  but  Death  who  comes  at  last. 

Stenographic  Lesson  Report  95 

TEACHER:     Another? 

MARGARET:  And  darest  thou  then 

To  beard  the  lion  in  his  den, 
And  Douglas  in  his  hall? 

TEACHER:     How  many  have  read  the  Lady  of  the  Lake? 


TEACHER:     Which  do  you  like  better,  Marmion  or  the  Lady  of  the  Lake? 

ED:  The  Lady  of  the  Lake  I  read  about  two  years  ago  in  Miss  A's 
class,  and  I  can  remember  it,  but  this  I  couldn't  remember  in  a  couple 
of  weeks. 

TEACHER:     Dorothy? 

DOROTHY:  I  think  I  would  know  right  away  that  I  was  reading  Scott; 
the  two  books;  he  repeats  himself  the  way  Macaulay  does;  their  heroes 
are  something  the  same. 

TEACHER:  It  is  Scott  all  the  way  through.  What  do  you  think  are 
the  strong  points  in  Marmion? 

PUPIL:     I  don't  know. 

TEACHER:     How  many  feel  that  the  descriptions  are  capital? 


TEACHER:  I  want  everyone  by  Monday  to  have  purchased  a  copy  of 
Silas  Marner,  etc.,  etc.  For  to-morrow  prepare  the  grammar  on  page, 
etc.,  etc. 







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